Mandan police announced late Thursday that a person of interest had been detained in connection with the investigation into four homicides. Police said they followed up on a lead that led investigators to Washburn. No other details were immediately released, but police indicated further public updates were expected. Earlier Thursday, police sought the public's help to stop rumors from being posted to social media.
Chief Jason Ziegler issued a public statement Thursday asking people to only post factual information from police about the four bodies that were discovered Monday at RJR Maintenance and Management in southeast Mandan.
“Although it seems like not much information is being released to the public, we have to ensure that we maintain the highest possible level of security with details surrounding this case,” Ziegler said in the statement.
Police identified the victims as Robert Fakler, owner of the property management business, and employees Adam Fuehrer and William and Lois Cobb, a married couple. Police had not said how they died, when the killings occurred or released a potential motive.
Richard Lehman, who owns B’s Collectibles, a business not far from the crime scene, said Thursday morning that unanswered questions about the investigation are leading people to speculate about what happened. A Facebook discussion group dedicated to the case had nearly 2,000 members as of Thursday.
“There’s all kinds of theories out there,” Lehman said. “I think it’s just causing more fear with everybody not knowing what’s going on.”
The Mandan Police Department declined a request from The Bismarck Tribune for the audio or transcript of the 911 call for a medical assist on Monday that led to the discovery of the bodies. Police cited the ongoing investigation as the reason for not releasing the information.
Deputy Police Chief Lori Flaten confirmed that a Wednesday search in a field about half a mile from the business was related to the investigation. State and local police at the scene were “looking for potential evidence,” she said, without elaborating.
Ziegler has emphasized that the public is not in any danger, though the department has not released any information about a suspect or suspects. Ziegler said investigators believe “this is a targeted, isolated incident.”
Archie Pierce, owner of Pierce Repair, another business near RJR along the area of Mandan known as the “Strip,” said he’s started locking the back door of his shop since Monday.
But Darin Helbling, manager of Midway Lanes, another business nearby, said he doesn’t have safety concerns.
“I’m not worried,” Helbling said.
Michael Myers, who works for Schmidt Auto Sales, a business across the "Strip" from RJR, said Thursday morning he wished there was more information, but he understands that police can’t give out all the details.
“There are a lot of questions that aren’t being answered, but I understand it’s part of the ongoing investigation,” Myers said.
Ziegler said the department has been working “tirelessly” since Monday morning with the help of other law enforcement agencies to bring the case to a conclusion.
“Our highest priority is the safety of our community and bringing the person responsible for this to justice,” Ziegler said.
Citizens can make anonymous tips 24 hours a day by calling 701-667-3220 or by texting RJR to 847411.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.