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Cellphone records link murder-for-hire suspects, missing man

James Henrikson and Timothy Suckow, suspects in a murder-for-hire plot targeting a South Hill businessman, were together in North Dakota the day another alleged victim went missing in 2012, according to cellphone records released in federal court this week.

Federal prosecutors this week published a 22-page report by a law enforcement cellphone analyst in response to allegations from Henrikson’s defense attorneys that they weren’t providing complete investigative records. The records indicate that Suckow, the alleged triggerman who killed Doug Carlile in a break-in of Carlile’s South Hill home in December 2013, traveled to Williston, North Dakota, in February 2012, the day before Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke disappeared.

Suckow, Henrikson and four other men were indicted in September for their alleged roles in the deaths of Carlile and Clarke, and the attempted murder of three other men tied to oil dealings in North Dakota. Clarke’s body has not been found, but his abandoned truck was found in Watford City, North Dakota, three years ago. Investigators used interviews with Suckow and cellphone records to piece together what happened in the hours leading up to and following Clarke’s disappearance, leading to the indictment that has put all the alleged conspirators in jail awaiting trial.

Prosecutors announced in February they would not seek the death penalty for any of the defendants in the case, though five of the men were eligible for execution under federal law.

According to the cellphone records, Suckow traveled to Williston, the site of Henrikson’s company Blackstone Trucking, by train from Spokane on Feb. 21. He arrived there in the evening, and the records suggest Henrikson picked up Suckow before eating at an Arby’s and heading back to Henrikson’s Watford City home.

Witnesses told investigators Clarke drove from his home in nearby Newtown, North Dakota, to pick up his last paycheck at Blackstone the morning of Feb. 22. The last phone call made from Clarke’s phone was placed at 10:25 a.m. Feb. 22. Henrikson’s cellphone records show he was at the Blackstone office until 12:17 p.m., when he traveled to Watford City. Unanswered calls and texts to Clarke’s cellphone pinged off the same tower as Henrikson’s phone, indicating the two mobile devices were likely in close proximity, according to the analyst’s report.

Suckow’s phone was also in the vicinity of the same tower during that time, records show. Henrikson and Suckow called or texted a total of 10 times throughout the morning and early afternoon, according to the report.

Throughout the afternoon, Clarke’s cellphone received 34 unanswered messages. His phone remained in Watford City all afternoon, “in the vicinity of a town he normally did not frequent for an extended period of time,” according to the report.

The final location of Clarke’s phone that can be tracked by cell towers is in Williston, around 11:20 p.m. that evening. Clarke’s phone was then “likely turned off or deactivated at around the same time” his truck was left in town.

“In the opinion of the analyst, it is improbable that Mr. Henrikson would be in the vicinity of both Mr. Clarke’s truck and his deactivated cell phone during the above time frame, while also being in communication with Mr. Suckow, without any knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Clarke’s disappearance earlier that day,” the report’s author, Matthew Robinson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, wrote.

Robinson noted geolocation of cellphones using towers has room for error, but he alludes to statements made by Suckow to investigators that match cellphone movements tracked by towers. Suckow’s statements are not part of the published record, but prosecutors included in their filing that Suckow told authorities he threw the gun used to shoot Carlile in his Spokane home Dec. 15, 2013, into the Spokane River.

A glove found in the backyard of Carlile’s home contained traces of DNA investigators believe belong to Suckow. Henrikson was arrested at his Watford City home shortly after Suckow was taken into custody, originally on weapons charges before the grand jury returned its indictment.

A hearing is scheduled next week. A trial has been tentatively set for October.