TONIGHT ON KHQ: Dateline NBC's story on the murder of Doug Carlile


Friday night on KHQ, Dateline is airing their story on the murder of Doug Carlile on Spokane's south hill in December 2013. The story is a complicated murder-for-hire plot that took years for all parties involved to be held responsible. 

Dateline airs at 9:00 p.m., right here on KHQ, Friday night. If you're looking to get caught up, check out the most recent stories HERE. 

Here is a brief overview of the case. 

The details surrounding the murder of Doug Carlile, 63, read like a hard boiled detective novel: business deals gone wrong, two-bit thugs in over their heads, murder for hire, and the lawless oil fields of North Dakota. But Spokane Police detectives say all of those elements, and more, played into Carlile's murder.

Doug Carlile was gunned down in his home Sunday night, December 15, 2013. He and his wife had just returned home from church. When they walked into their house, Elberta Carlile went upstairs, and Doug Carlile went into the kitchen. From the stairs, Elberta heard her husband talking to someone. She went into the kitchen and found a man wearing a mask and pointing a gun at her husband. Doug Carlile urged her to leave, then told the gunman not to do anything. Elberta Carlile went back upstairs, heard 4-5 shots, then hid in a closet and called 911. She was still in the closet when emergency crews responded. Her husband was lying dead in the kitchen.

During the investigation, detectives had several pieces of evidence to work with: a white van seen by neighbors, and caught on surveillance, and a leather glove found outside the Carlile's home. Detectives say the glove they found was dry, which struck them as odd, because it had recently rained. The pulled DNA from the glove then got a list of every van that matched the description of the one seen near the Carlile's home the night of the murder.

On January 13, Detectives impounded a 1995 white Chevrolet extended cab van from a business called IRS Environmental. IRS Environmental's owner said the van had recently been used by Timothy Suckow, 50, although he couldn't say if Suckow had the van the night of the murder. In court documents, neighbors reported that the man driving the van the night of the murder was a "bald white male, with an athletic build", that closely matched Timothy Suckow's appearance. It was also enough of a reason for detectives to search Suckow's personal vehicle, a 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe. In the Tahoe, detectives found a mask that matched the one Carlile's wife described the night of the murder. Detectives also found a list in the center console that contained several strange items and descriptions. The list included the following:

  • glove?
  • badge
  • trench coat
  • two boots
  • LED light cap
  • radios with mics
  • window tinker
  • Wheel man (show scene tour Google Earth)
  • check van for scheduling/magnetic signs
  • wipe tools down
  • practice with pistol

Timothy Suckow was arrested January 13, 2016, and charged with First-Degree-Murder. He was in court January 14 and was held on a $2 Million bond.

A raid January 15 of a garage owned by a co-worker of Suckow's yielded about 20 guns belonging to Suckow, and police think the murder weapon may be among them.

But Timothy Suckow's arrest was only the beginning of this very complicated, wide-ranging investigation.

The big question in all of this has always been why did Timothy Suckow kill Doug Carlile? He didn't take anything from the home, Carlile didn't know Suckow, and Suckow's only crimes had been small-time burglaries. Detectives believed there was more to this case then a home burglary gone wrong, so they started to look into Carlile's past. The first thing they learned from Carlile's family was that Doug Carlile was very afraid of a man named James Henrikson. Carlile's son testified that his father told him that if he gets killed, Henrikson was likely going to be the one behind it. Carlile's son loaned him a gun as a result of his father's fears.

James Henrikson is a man with an extensive criminal history. Three hours after Carlile's murder, detectives called and talked with James Henrikson on the phone. He told authorities he was in North Dakota, where he lived, and denied having anything to do with Carlile's death. He said he'd heard about the murder from someone just before detectives called him. Henrikson further said he had no wish to see any harm come to Doug Carlile, but then said that Carlile owed him $1.88 million. He said he was frustrated that Carlile wasn't paying him back. It was at this point that detectives felt there was much more to Doug Carlile's murder, and that James Henrikson likely played a key role.

In 2012, Henrikson and Carlile worked with several others on two businesses in the oil fields in North Dakota. One business was a trucking company called Bridgewater Energy. The second business was Kingdom Dynamics Enterprises and was an oilfield development company. Doug Carlile recruited investors for Kingdom Dynamics to fund the purchase of 640 acres of land on the MHA Nations Reservation. These investors included Douglas Helton ($920,000), James Henrikson ($340,000) and Henrikson's significant other, Sarah Creveling ($300,000).

Court documents reveal that Henrikson helped Carlile find two other men to come onboard and oil rights were purchased for $2 million from a company based out of Chicago. Henrikson was set to make $1.2 million when the oil field started making a profit. Kingdom Dynamics purchased the oil rights to 320 acres and had plans to purchase the additional 320 acres when funding came in. Carlile had been attempting to find investors who could fund the additional $400,000 but was having trouble getting anyone else on board.

In late 2013, Henrikson learned that Doug Carlile was attempting to buy him out of Kingdom Dynamics. Henrikson did not want that to happen. There are estimates that the oil under the land purchased by Kingdom Dynamics could be worth billions of dollars. A neighboring piece of property was turning a $250,000 profit per day. At the same time, Henrikson was trying to get Carlile out of Kingdom Dynamics. He and the other investors offered Carlile a lifetime percentage of the well production to remove himself from the company. When Carlile declined Henrikson told a mutual friend that "he did not know what else to do." Henrikson felt that Carlile was the problem, and Carlile felt the same about Henrikson.

Despite Henrikson's denial of having anything to do with Doug Carlile's murder, detectives continued to focus in on him. They learned of a friend of Henrikson's named Robert Delao. Delao is described in court documents as Henrikson's right-hand man. Delao has a long criminal history in Spokane that includes manslaughter and drug charges. He also has a girlfriend and child who live in Spokane and whom he visited frequently. Delao arrived in Spokane two days after Carlile's murder. He met with Spokane Police Detectives and denied any involvement in Carlile's death. He said "I don't do that kind of thing anymore, I'm just trying to work a regular job." Delao took and passed a polygraph test in which he was asked if he murdered Carlile or had any involvement in Carlile's murder.

But Delao's interview led detectives to a man named Todd Bates. An informant told detectives he'd seen Delao and Bates together numerous times. That same informant told police he'd overheard Henrikson telling Bates that "this job would pay the same as the last job." Documents say the informant believes "the last job" refers to the disappearance of Casey Clark. Clark was Henrikson's operations manager who has been missing since February 2012. The informant says Bates is Henrikson's enforcer, his muscle that would beat up or intimidate people who were causing Henrikson problems.

Bates is also from Spokane, and, once again, has an extensive criminal background. Detectives discovered that Todd Bates and Timothy Suckow know each other. And that was the connection. Detectives believe that James Henrikson wanted to end his business relationship with Doug Carlile, but Carlile wasn't going away. To solve the problem, Henrikson contacted his enforcer, Todd Bates and directed him to either kill, or find someone to kill, Doug Carlile. Bates then contacted Timothy Suckow, and directed him to murder Carlile.

On January 14, federal agents raided James Henrikson's North Dakota home. James Henrikson was eventually arrested and convicted in the murder of not only Doug Carlile, but also KC Clark. He was sentenced to two life sentences back in May 2016. 

Timothy Suckow was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Other men who played a role in the murder were also arrested: 

  • Robert Delao, 41: 22 years in prison
  • Robby Wahrer, 35: 10 years in prison
  • Lazaro Pesina, 41: 12 years in prison
  • Todd Bates, 43: 8 years in prison

Dateline's story airs at 9:00 p.m. on KHQ. 

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