K.C. Clarke: Two Years Missing



U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon announced Saturday afternoon that James Henrikson was arrested in Mandan on federal firearms charges, namely being a felon in possession of firearms. Purdon said Henrikson was arrested by agents from Homeland Security Investigations and the Bismarck-Mandan Area Narcotics Task Force. The FBI, The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office were also involved in the investigation and capture of Henrikson. We reported here earlier that Henrikson’s home near Watford City was searched earlier this week and agents found firearms there. Purdon said Henrikson was arrested without incident. In addition to the firearms charges, Henrikson is suspected of being involved in the December murder of Douglas Carlile, one of Henrikson’s business partners, although there was no mention of that in the press release by the U.S. Attorney’s office. We’ll have to wait and see if Henrikson is charged in that case. I think a lot of people can sleep better tonight.

Here’s my report from earlier today:

Just one more update—actually more background than update—on the murder-for-hire story involving the Spokane businessman and his business partner from Watford City, and then we’ll wait until the police and FBI do their jobs, because when that happens, the media will take over here and do its job, I’m sure. Uh huh.

Right now it’s pretty much a non-story here, although I watched KFYR news at 5 last night and I’d have sworn I heard the reporter say authorities are looking for James Henrikson in connection with the case. There is much speculation that Henrikson, of Watford City, hired a fellow named Timothy Suckow out in Spokane to kill Henrikson’s business partner, Douglas Carlile. But when I went to the KFYR website this morning, that line was missing from the story, and no one else seems to be reporting it. Maybe I was just hearing things.

The story has revived hope for the family of another Washington state man who went missing almost two years ago from the North Dakota Oil Patch. Henrikson is suspected of foul play in the disappearance in February 2012 of Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke, 30 years old at the time.

“K.C.” Clarke

Clarke was an employee of Henrikson’s and sources who knew them both say there was some bad blood between them. Clarke supposedly left work one day for a two-week vacation from his job in Mandaree and disappeared.

By the end of May, no one had heard from K.C. for more than three months, and K.C.’s mother, Jill Williams, also from Washinton state, started a Facebook page to search for her son. Here’s part of what she wrote:

30 year old white male.
About 140-155lbs and 5’10”.
Brown hair and eyes.

            K.C. is a funny, loving, generous, hardworking and kind guy. Always there to help someone in need. He is smart and always cracking jokes and living life to the fullest. He loved photography and “tried to take a picture of and look for beautiful things every day”-a sunset, the landscape around him, flowers and animals. He is a Christian.
Missing since: Feb. 22, 2012. 

She provided a short timeline of K.C.’s travels leading up to the disappearance:

*October 2011-K.C. leaves Texas with James Henrickson-they go to North Dakota to work together for Blackstone trucking in Mandaree, ND. K.C. is made operations manager. Blackstone is run by Sarah Creveling and James Terry Henrickson on property owned by Tex Hall in Mandaree. 
*At some point K.C.’s job as operations manager is taken from him and given to someone else. K.C. is dissatisfied with Blackstone, it’s owners and his wages. He decides to leave Blackstone to go work for Running Horse trucking.
*K.C. tells several people to contact his family if anything happens to him. Carries his gun everywhere, tells a friend that he needs to practice, to get better with his gun-feels that he is in danger. I have been told that he had arguments with James H.
*Feb 22, 2012 K.C. is last seen in Mandaree, North Dakota at Blackstone trucking. We are told that he was wearing grey sweat pants and black puma athletic shoes.
* Last cell ph. call-in the vicinity of Blackstone in Mandaree, no more calls were ever made or answered by K.C. on Feb. 22, 2012 after his trip to Blackstone. Nor was he seen again. He was not seen leaving Blackstone and it is unknown whether he ever left there alive. Others have said that K.C. and James argued that day. Calls go directly to voicemail after that.
*No contact with anyone, no sightings, no bank account or cell phone activity, etc. since 2/22/2012
*End of Feb-beginning of March 2012 K.C.’s grandpa calls the Montana police to report K.C. missing-they tell grandpa that K.C. is an adult, that they can do nothing. They are not very helpful.

Sometime around June 1, 2012, police discovered Clarke’s pickup abandoned in Williston, with his belongings inside. By then, everyone suspected foul play, and that’s when the police investigation began. It is ongoing. But off the news media radar until this week.

Meanwhile, postings by Clarke’s mother and others about Henrikson and their suspicion that he was involved in Clarke’s disappearance, and a number of accusations by Clarke’s mother, led Henrikson to file a slander suit against her. That suit continues. Clarke’s mother has filed bankruptcy in the face of legal bills for attorneys to defend her.

James Henrikson

You can look at pages from the complaint filed by Henrikson and his wife, taken from the Facebook page, here, from Henrikson, and here from his wife, also a plaintiff in the slander suit.

There have been a few searches in northwest North Dakota, but no trace of Clarke has been found. In October, 2012, Clarke’s mother posted the following on Facebook:

An anonymous donor has put up a $10,000 reward! To receive the reward, you must lead us to K.C. or his body AND the person responsible for his disappearance and info to substantiate that that person is guilty. You may remain anonymous.

               Well, as most know by now, we spent last Friday-Sunday in North Dakota. We made progress and are hard at work following leads. We will find K.C.! I plead with anyone who has information-PLEASE contact me, write me an e-mail, call me, send a pm through the page, drop an anonymous note in the mail-something please, to tell us what happened to K.C. You have my solemn promise to keep you anonymous if asked to. I am not interested in revenge- I just need to know what happened and where my son is. I can understand how someone might have the answers we need, but be afraid to come forward. Please don’t be afraid, I won’t put your message here, I won’t tell anyone, including the police who you are. I will do everything in my power to protect you from harm by the person who is responsible. If you know what happened or were there, it will help you to come forward-to ease the guilt and have the opportunity to bargain with the police and have less devastating consequences should the authorities find out (not by me) who you are. And if you are the person responsible-please, just tell me what happened, please give me some peace by letting me know where my K.C. is. I understand that things happen, people get mad, things get out of control. I’m guessing that someone didn’t actually mean to kill K.C. (if he is gone), but that things got out of control and unexpectedly took a turn that no one expected.

            You have no idea the Hell I live in, the agony I am going through (unless you have been through something similar), not knowing where my boy is. You cannot imagine, what we went through in North Dakota, walking miles searching, picking up bones (wondering if they might be part of my baby), ripping out thistle bushes with my bare hands to look beneath them, as my husband and our friend, on their knees, dug with hands, machetes and a camp shovel in the dirt, desperately trying to find K.C. Picking up rocks to take home, so that I had a piece of the last town(s) where my son was. Barely sleeping or eating because we were too busy trying to find my son. I try to be strong to do what needs to be done, but when the special agent wheeled my son’s belongings into the room and put them all in a row on the table, when I had to sign for those things, when they swabbed my mouth for the DNA test- I could not hold back the tears anymore. You cannot imagine the agony of leaving the state without my baby, leaving people who have helped me and become family to me-who I have come to love. I left part of my heart in North Dakota and I hurt everyday, my spirit is tugged and tormented with the need to go back to North Dakota to find my boy and see the people who now hold a piece of my heart. I feel like I let K.C. down because I left the state without finding him. Please help me bring K.C. home before the holidays-which will be no joyous season this year without him.

Not much has transpired in the ensuing 14 months. There was another search in Northwest North Dakota last summer, but nothing turned up. Friends and supporters raised money to help pay legal bills. Clarke’s mother advertised her jewelry for sale on Facebook to get money for the lawyer. But the story has been revived now with Carlile’s murder and its ties to Henrikson.

If, and when, Henrikson is apprehended and charged in Carlile’s murder, more may emerge. It seems unlikely that Suckow will take the rap alone for the murder. Police can find no connection between Carlile and Suckow that would provide a reason for the murder. But police can connect Suckow to Henrikson through a telephone number in Suckow’s phone contacts. And police know that Henrikson spent a night at Carlile’s house last year, knew the layout of the home, and knew where the hidden spare key was. And the story from the night of the murder is that Carlile and his wife arrived home, and Suchow was already inside the house waiting for them (so he may have found the spare key), and shot Carlile.

And the events surrounding Carlile’s death in faraway eastern Washington have added more chaos to an already tumultuous Watford City crime scene. This week the police chief advised his city council he wants to resign as chief and go back on the beat because he doesn’t feel he has enough actual experience to head up the towns’ police force in the face of what is going on there, and McKenzie County hired its first-ever full time State’s Attorney to prosecute the growing number of cases facing the court system there.

Life in the Oil Patch.

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