Spokane police detectives recovered the possible murder weapon used to kill South Hill businessman Doug Carlile last month and now suspect the crime may have been a contract killing tied to troubled business dealings in the North Dakota oil field.
The search of a car shop belonging to a co-worker of alleged shooter Timothy Suckow, 50, produced multiple weapons – including the gun police suspect was used to kill Carlile on Dec. 15.
Suckow is charged with first-degree murder, and evidence suggests he may have been hired to carry out the shooting by James Henrikson, an associate of Carlile’s angered by unpaid debts and their effect on deals for oil-rich lands in the booming North Dakota crude industry.
Court documents filed late Wednesday outline the suspicions of detectives that Henrikson, who has a lengthy criminal history, ordered the shooting. Suckow is accused of shooting Carlile in the kitchen of Carlile’s three-story home near Hutton Elementary School.
Investigators searched a northeast Spokane home Tuesday afternoon, where a co-worker who said he’d known Suckow for several years showed detectives the ’59 Chevy station wagon he was using to store several guns for Suckow. The man told police Suckow had asked him a few months ago to keep the weapons because he was having problems with his wife.
Police seized several rifles and handguns the co-worker said belonged to Suckow, including at least one .45-caliber handgun that matches the description of the weapon used to kill Carlile, according to court documents.
And detectives linked Suckow to the crime scene at 2505 S. Garfield Road by a leather glove dropped in the backyard. DNA testing returned a match on Suckow, who has spent time in state and federal prison, according to police. He has two Spokane burglary convictions from the 1980s.
A number in Suckow’s phone matched Henrikson’s cellphone number, according to investigators. Police interviewed several people who said Henrikson hired muscle to intimidate competing business interests and had threatened Carlile and his family as well as the chairman of a Native American tribe Henrikson has been accused of defrauding. Henrikson, reached by phone hours after Carlile was killed, told police the former Moses Lake resident owed him close to $2 million but denied involvement in his death.
Carlile’s family told police he had grown leery of Henrikson in recent weeks. Associates said Henrikson had attempted to buy Carlile out of a contract for tribal lands thought to be flush with oil, but Carlile refused at least one offer. Carlile told one of his sons, “If I disappear or wake up with bullets in my back, promise me you will let everyone know that James Henrikson did it.”
Suckow was ordered held on $2 million bail Tuesday by a Spokane County judge. An FBI spokesman in Spokane could not confirm media reports late Wednesday that the agency had searched Henrikson’s residence in North Dakota.