Police: North Dakota business owner, 3 employees killed


MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — Police on Tuesday identified the owner of a North Dakota property management business and three employees as the people whose bodies were found there a day earlier, and said authorities don’t yet know who killed them.

Police Chief Jason Ziegler released the names of the four victims, but offered few additional details about a mystery that has gripped the area since authorities found the bodies Monday morning at RJR Maintenance and Management in Mandan, just across the Missouri River from the state capital of Bismarck.

Ziegler did not say how the victims were killed. He said police were awaiting autopsy results and that authorities did not recover a weapon. He also would not say whether police have identified a potential motive. Yet he remained adamant that authorities do not believe the public is at risk, “based upon what we know at the crime scene.”

“This incident was specific to the victims,” Ziegler said. “We do not believe the public is in danger.”

Ziegler identified the dead as owner Robert Fakler, 52; and employees Adam Fuehrer, 42, Lois Cobb, 45, and William Cobb, 50.

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The Cobbs were married. Lois Cobb’s daughter, Briann Miller, of Girard, Illinois, said her mom and stepdad had moved to North Dakota six years ago from Illinois and recently bought their dream home. She said authorities gave her no details on how they died.

“I just know that it was an attack,” Miller said. “I don’t know how it happened, what it happened with. I’m left in the dark still. None of this makes any sense. All I know is my parents are gone.”

Lois Cobb was an account specialist and William Cobb a maintenance supervisor, according to the company’s website.

Fuehrer worked in maintenance, according to his sister, Natascha Towne, who spoke briefly to The Associated Press on Monday when she showed up at the business in search of answers about his status. She could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Clients and friends of Fakler described him as cheerful and hard working.

“I can’t imagine that he had any enemies,” said Ann Farrell, who fought backs tears as she talked about a conversation she had with him Sunday night. He was “very much in a good mood,” the Bismarck woman said.

She her brother, Rolf Eggers, were both clients and friends of Fakler’s.

“I wish I could turn back time and warn him,” Eggers said.

Ziegler said investigators were reviewing video from the scene and surrounding businesses and that “we’ve got a lot of good leads, a lot of good information.” He appealed for the public’s help, and said authorities planned to re-interview more than 30 people.

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“A lot of the questions … we just don’t have answers right now,” Ziegler said. “We’ve got to be able to do our investigation and put these puzzles together.”

Miller said her mother and stepdad never gave any indication to her of any problems at work. She last spoke with her mom on Saturday.

“They talked so highly of the Bismarck and Mandan area, how beautiful it was, how amazing the people were,” Miller said. “They were so nice to everybody, too. It’s just unimaginable.”

Mandan has about 22,000 residents, while neighboring Bismarck has about 73,000. Mandan had not had a homicide since November 2016, and had only three in the past six years. In that time period, neighboring Bismarck had seven homicides.

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.

RJR’s website identified it as a family-owned company that has been handling 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.


Associated Press journalist Dave Kolpack in Fargo and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report..


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