48 Hours Mystery: The dog trainer of Anacortes
Mark Stover (Family Photo)
Detective Dan Luvera of the Skagit County Sheriff's Office searches Stover's house for clues.
"The blood on the walls. The blood on the carpet. It told a story of what took place," says Det. Luvera.
Traces of a murder, but no trace of Mark.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Tami Gilden and her mom report a trespassing.
911 Operator: Skagit 911. What's your emergency?
Tami Gilden: I need a sheriff to come out here to Summit Park Grange.
Two vehicles, including Mark Stover's missing white station wagon, are illegally parked. Gilden sees a man moving a large object wrapped in plastic from the wagon into a black SUV.
"My first thought was, 'Oh, a body,'" she says. Gilden gave the 911 operator the SUV's license plate number.
Minutes later, the black SUV with that license plate is spotted and pulled over for trespassing.
The driver hands over his license. It's Michiel Oakes - Linda Opdycke's live-in boyfriend and protector.
"It was raining, he had sunglasses on which was unusual. He was extremely nervous," notes the deputy who pulled Oakes over.
The deputy notices that bundle in the back, but has no reason to check it. He gives Oakes a warning and sends him on his way. Oakes then takes a strange detour. He visits his ex-wife, Jennifer Thompson.
"He looked very disheveled and frumpy. He's usually meticulous - neat and tidy," Thompson says. "Well I said, 'Are you OK? And he said, 'No, I think I'm in trouble.'"
Oakes then drops a bombshell.
"Michiel told me that ... if law enforcement had seen what was in his car, he'd go away for life," she tells Van Sant. "I didn't know how serious to take it ... I was concerned for him because he was so upset."
Oakes then said he had to leave.
"I kissed him on the cheek and that haunts me because he had a body in that car," an emotional Thompson recalls.
Oakes drives into the night; 160 miles across the mountains back to Linda's house. He arrives just after 11:30. That plastic bundle is gone and Linda is waiting for him.
"Did you tell her what happened?" Van Sant asks Oakes.
"Oh no, not at all," he replies. "I think my exact words were, 'I'm having the worse day of my life.'"
"When Michiel came back from this trip, what did he say to you?" Van Sant asks Linda.
"I don't want to go there," she says. "We really didn't talk much...
Linda Opdycke says she didn't know anything was wrong until she received a chilling email from a former employee of Stover's the next day. It read: "Mark is missing, blood in house, Dingo almost dead."
"When I found out Mark was missing ... my first thought was - was he coming over to my place to kill me?" she says.
Soon, there was a knock at her door.
Chief Deputy Dave Rodriguez and Sgt. Gene Davis were investigating the disappearance of Mark Stover and told Linda they were there to talk to Oakes.
"She seemed a little surprised that we were there," says Rodriguez.
"She kept on askin' me, 'I don't know what's going on here. What's goin on here? I'm so confused,'" says Davis.
"They say, 'This isn't just a social call this time. We want to talk to you, Michiel," says Oakes.
Rodriguez asks Oakes if he'd been in Anacortes.
"He said, 'Yes, I was over there, but I was over visiting my ex-wife," Rodriguez says. "Then he started getting pretty agitated. ...And he's looking around. And he goes, 'I gotta find my medication.'"
Oakes heads to his SUV.
"I see Oakes open the back hatch, reach inside, and take out a plastic bag," Davis says. "He throws it over an embankment."
Davis recovers the bag. Inside is a .22 caliber pistol. Right then, Michiel Oakes is arrested on suspicion of murder.
"I thought this had to have been just a misunderstanding or mistake and that this would be cleared up very shortly," Linda tells Van Sant.
But Det. Luvera was sure he had his killer. "All the physical evidence we have leads up to Michiel Oakes" he tells Van Sant.
"Did you set out on the morning of Oct. 28, 2009, to murder Mark Stover?" Van Sant asks Oakes.
"I most certainly did not," he replies.
"Michiel would not want to kill anybody," Linda says. "That is contrary to everything about Michiel."
But the investigation was just beginning. Detective Luvera wondered if there was a conspiracy - whether Mark Stover's killing was a murder for hire.
"Did you want to talk to Linda Updycke?" Van Sant asks the detective.
"Oh, most definitely," says Luvera.
"Did she agree to speak with you?"
"No, she did not."
"That was our question. Why not?"
Investigators were now turning their attention to the heiress from one of the most powerful families in the state of Washington.
"I have no involvement in this," Linda says crying. "There is nothing there!"
The story continues... The Dog Trainer, the Heiress and the Bodyguard
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