Timothy Suckow was arrested early Tuesday morning for the Dec. 15 murder of Doug Carlile, the result of a month-long investigation by Spokane police detectives that stretched from Spokane's South Hill to the North Dakota oil fields.
Suckow, 50, has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder and made his first court appearance on the charge Tuesday afternoon.
Numerous witnesses, including Carlile's family members, however, say James Henrikson, a business partner of Carlile's in the North Dakota oil fields, threatened to kill Carlile and his family, prompting him to arm himself and talk to his family about his concerns about what Henrikson might do to him.
But according to court documents it was Suckow who showed up at the Carlile residence at 2505 S. Garfield Road the evening of Dec. 15, surprising Carlile inside his home after he and his wife returned home. When Carlile's wife went upstairs she heard Doug downstairs speaking to a man dressed all in black, including a facemask, armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, confronting her husband, who repeatedly told the man not to do anything.
She turned and ran up the stairs; as she reached the top of the stairs five to six shots rang out. Carlile's wife hid in a closet and called 911 while the gunman fled.
Despite attempts of first responders to resuscitate him, Carlile was pronounced dead from two gunshot wounds from a .45 caliber pistol.
The white van, leather glove and the operations plan
Officers fanned into the neighborhood searching for the gunman, who was not found. What they did find, however, was a leather glove and several witnesses who told police they had seen a suspicious white van parked in several locations in the neighborhood.
One neighbor went to check the van and observed it had a temporary paper license in the back window while another provided surveillance video from their home, which showed the van driving through the neighborhood. Surveillance video from Hutton Elementary School showed an individual running along the north end of the school the night of Carlile's killing.
Police put out a request from the public for more information on the van spotted in the neighborhood on Dec. 15 and detectives eventually identified the make and model of the van as a 1995 Chevy extended van. Running a record check on that particular type of vehicle, detectives were able to get a hit on one owned by IRS Environmental, an asbestos and lead abatement company with offices in Spokane and Wenatchee.
Meanwhile, detectives had recovered a single leather glove that was subsequently turned over to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for processing. DNA was recovered from the glove and the profile was placed into the FBI's national DNA database, that retrieved a single match: Timothy Suckow. Suckow had previous convictions for burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Suckow, according to the owner of IRS Environmental, was an employee who had access to the vehicles the company owned, including a 1995 Chevy extended van. The vehicle had a license plate that was assigned to it before the night of Carlile's killing and detectives, according to court documents, speculate that when the witness spotted the van with a temporary license in the window and no permanent plates that someone could have easily removed the plate and put a temporary plate in the window.
A search warrant executed by detectives on Suckow's 1997 Chevy Tahoe Monday morning uncovered what they called an operations list that spelled out clothing items such as gloves, boots, badge, trench coat, as well as a to do list that included wiping tools down, checking the van for signage and practice with pistol. Detectives also found a black balaclava inside the SUV.
A detective also executed a search warrant on Suckow's phone and listed among his contacts was the name James ND. The phone number for the contact matched a phone number provided to authorities by a witness.
The phone number belonged to James Henrikson.
Black gold and bad blood
Court documents say that Carlile was introduced to future business partner Henrikson two years ago and the two men, along with John Wark and Bill Curtiss, joined together to form two business ventures in the North Dakota oil fields.
The first, Bridgewater Energy, was a trucking company that hauled water and oil from well sites. The second was Kingdom Dynamics Enterprises, an oil field development company. Carlile's role involved recruiting investors to fund mineral rights purchases on 640 acres of land on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) land. The initial investors included Henrikson and his wife, Sarah Creveling. While Henrikson was part of the Bridgewater Energy business, he asked that Carlile, Wark and Curtiss put the business in their name.
The potential money involved in the Kingdom Dynamics land is staggering. John Wark, one of the four business partners in the company, told detectives the oil field adjoining the 640 acres owned by the company pump out an average of $250,000 of crude every day. Stan Dedmon, the owner of a Texas oil development company, told detectives he believes there are billions of dollars of crude oil under the ground of Kingdom Dynamics' property.
The North Dakota oil boom has resulted in an infusion of businesses -- everything from trucking companies to construction firms to oil development companies -- trying to cash in. Financing an oil venture can cost a sizable amount of money, requiring businesses to reach out to investors to help fund an oil strike.
Larry Tormozov, of Moses Lake, runs one such company, a construction company busy building roads and drilling pads in Montana and North Dakota for oil companies. He was familiar with Carlile, who had known him for years and brought him on as an employee after a bankruptcy, only to turn around and fire him when he found Carlile was allegedly undercutting Tormozov on jobs he was bidding on.
Henrikson approached Tormozov, who he had met on a previous construction job in Walla Walla several years ago, as a potential investor in Kingdom Dynamics Enterprises and their oil lease, inquiring as to whether a good friend of Tormozov's would be willing to invest in the business. As he was reviewing the paperwork Henrikson had left him he realized that Doug Carlile was a 51-percent owner in the business, so Tormozov told Henrikson there was no way his friend would invest in the business with Carlile involved. Tormozov said that if Carlile was out of Kingdom Dynamics he would speak to his friend about investing in the business.
Two weeks later Henrikson contacted Tormozov and said attempts to buy Carlile out of the business but he had declined; Tormozov responded by saying with Carlile a majority owner in the company he and his business associate -- who distrusted Carlile because of money owed him that Carlile reportedly never repaid in full -- would not get involved.
The relationship between Carlile and Henrikson was horrible, according to the employee who provided detectives with the phone number for Henrikson which was found in Suckow's contacts list on his cellphone. The employee said Henrikson repeatedly threatened Carlile with violence, according to court documents, and that, during a visit to Henrikson's home, he saw Carlile's complete name written over and over again as if someone had been practicing writing it.
When contacted by detectives, Henrikson said he was in business with Carlile, was angry at him for not paying people money they were owed -- he claimed Carlile owed him $1.88 Million -- but denied ever threatening him, was not involved in his killing and didn't know why anyone would hurt Carlile.
"Let everyone know that James Henrikson did it."
Henrikson has been interviewed by detectives investigating Carlile's murder, but authorities have not said whether or not he is a suspect or a person of interest in the killing. However, he is a person of interest in the February 2012 disappearance of Casey Clark, the one-time operations manager for Henrikson.
Detectives were tipped off by an individual who was roommates in North Dakota with Robert Delao, a known criminal in Spokane with a long history of offenses including theft and assault. Delao would often receive visits from a man identified as Todd Bates, who Spokane Police know is a friend of Delao's.
Delao told his roommate Bates was a roustabout working for the oil company, a claim the roommate refuted because he had worked in the oil fields his entire life and Bates knew nothing about the oil industry.
On one occasion the witness said he overheard Henrikson and Bates talking about a job from February 2013 and that "this job would pay the same as the last job." The witness speculated the last job was Casey Clark, and that Bates, who court documents confirm has multiple convictions in Alaska for assault, was an enforcer for the company, who would beat up or intimidate people who caused Henrikson problems.
The witness, concerned for his safety, left the company and moved home to Texas.
Another witness, whose identity has been protected by detectives, said they were an employee of Henrikson's and, despite his claims to the contrary, the witness said he heard Henrikson threaten to kill Carlile and his entire family.
The individual also said that another employee, Eric Guerrero, told him in mid-September 2013 that Henrikson had approached Guerrero to see if he knew anyone that could kill Tex Hall, the elected leader of the MHA Nation.
Henrikson, Delao and Delao's girlfriend, Robin Benson, all worked for Hall's company, Moheshu Energy, and the trio are under federal investigation for defrauding the oil company out of millions of dollars.
Guerrero, who the witness said bragged about being in prison for murder, has the words Mexican Mafia tattooed on the back of his head; the Mexican Mafia is a high-profile Hispanic prison gang across the United States. Guerrero denied, when contacted by detectives, ever being asked to find someone to kill Tex Hall and refused to cooperate further.
While Suchow has been arrested for his murder, Carlile himself identified Henrikson as a suspect before his death.
In the days before his killing, fearing for his life, Carlile borrowed a gun from one of his sons and told family members, "If I disappear or wake up with bullets in my back, promise me you will let everyone know that James Henrikson did it."