In this Wednesday, April 3, 2019 photo, state and local police search a field in Manton, N.D., about half a mile from a business where an owner and three employees were found dead. Authorities on Thursday said they were looking for "potential evidence" related to the deaths discovered Monday at RJR Maintenance and Management in Mandan, a city just outside Bismarck. Police haven't yet identified a suspect. (AP Photo/ Blake Nicholson)

Suspect held in 4 slayings at North Dakota business

April 04, 2019 - 11:11 pm

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A 44-year-old man was arrested Thursday in the slayings of four people who were shot or stabbed earlier this week at a property management business, police said.

Chief Jason Ziegler said surveillance video identified a vehicle of interest and helped lead them to the suspect, who lived in the small town of Washburn about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Mandan.

Ziegler said a motive for the killings wasn't yet known. He said the suspect lived in a mobile home park managed by the business, RJR Maintenance and Management, "but we don't know the connection" with the suspect. He was arrested without incident Monday during a traffic stop.

"Evidence discovered on (the suspect) and in the vehicle provided probable cause to place (him) under arrest for the murders," Ziegler said. He did not elaborate on the evidence.

The man was being held on four counts of felony murder, Ziegler said, with a court appearance likely Friday. The charge carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without parole. North Dakota does not have the death penalty.

The man had no criminal history immediately evident in state or federal court in North Dakota.

Ziegler said police are not looking for any other suspects and were focusing on "putting everything together so we can get prosecution on this and bring (the suspect) to justice."

"Just because we've got him ... this is far from over. Now comes the long process of prosecution," the chief said.

It wasn't immediately clear if the man had an attorney representing him.

The bodies of an owner and three employees were found early Monday at RJR Maintenance and Management in Mandan, a city of 22,000 people just across the Missouri River from the state capital of Bismarck. Police have said the attack "was specific to the victims," and they didn't feel the public was in danger.

Ziegler declined to say whether all four of the victims were targeted. He said they suffered "stab wounds and/or gunshot wounds."

Earlier Thursday, police declined to release details of a 911 call that alerted authorities to the slayings. The Associated Press and other media outlets asked for audio and a transcript of the 911 call, but police denied the requests, citing a provision of the state's open records law that allows authorities to withhold such information during an active investigation.

Police have identified the dead as Robert Fakler, 52, co-owner of the property management business; employee Adam Fuehrer, 42; and married workers Lois Cobb, 45, and William Cobb, 50. A combined memorial service will be held Tuesday at Bismarck Community Church, according to Eastgate Funeral and Cremation Service.

The company's website says it has handled commercial and residential properties in the area for more than 20 years. Its services include collecting rent for landlords, paying mortgages, re-renting apartments, building and grounds maintenance, lawn care and snow removal. It also rents out storage units.

The RJR building is somewhat isolated despite its location in a business district near a busy main road known as The Strip. A large empty lot sits in the front, a golf course in back and a soccer complex to one side.

Mandan had not had a homicide since November 2016, and had only three in the past six years. In that time period, neighboring Bismarck, which has about 73,000 residents, had seven homicides.

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Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

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