By Grace Wong and Ivy Brown, Court TV
MORTON COUNTY, N.D. — After deliberating for four and half hours over two days, the jury of 6 men and 6 women found Chad Isaak guilty of four counts of murder in a workplace massacre that continues to haunt the small town of Mandan, North Dakota.
Isaak showed no emotion, as guilty verdicts were read aloud for the deaths of Lois Cobb, 45 William Cobb, 50, Adam Fuehrer, 42, and Robert Fakler, 52– the owner of RJR Maintenance and Management– where he and his employees were killed in a manner so horrific, trauma counselors were on hand to talk to jurors after the trial.
The verdicts brought cries of anguish and relief from victims’ family members who filled the pews with the courtroom clutching Kleenex as they sobbed into their hands and into each other’s arms. Neither side asked for the jurors to be polled, as they appeared solemn casting glances around the courtroom as family members wept. Their cries seemed to drown out the judge at times as he ordered a pre-sentencing report stating he wanted to find out more about the defendant.
Jesse Walstad, the only member of the defense team present for the verdict, said Isaak’s character and his life’s story will play a prominent role at sentencing. Walstad said they had vigorously defended their client, but had hoped for a different outcome – he did not want to appear on camera while he made his comments to reporters.
Morton County Assistant State Attorney Gabrielle Goter spoke for her team when they appeared before reporters. She appeared relieved and grateful to the jurors for a result that she said spoke to the thoroughness of the investigation that required the resources of multiple state and federal agencies. She agreed that not having a motive was a challenge here, saying “Jurors do want to know why.”
While she said she was uncomfortable sharing her thoughts on what motivated the defendant to slaughter four people he barely knew, three of whom were complete strangers, she did state there were several factors to consider. “I think he does not take to change easily,” Goter said, noting Isaak was confronted with new management, a new pet policy, the snow removal, and his friends who were the previous managers, were asked to vacate the park after their dog bit an RJR employee.
Jacqueline Fakler spoke to reporters later in the afternoon from the lobby of the company she and her husband operated. She was flanked by her children and employees wearing RJR emblazoned shirts. Fakler became emotional at times recalling fond memories of her friends and husband. She thanked members of law enforcement and the community for their support.
She told reporters the trial would not ‘fix’ the tragedy that has befallen her and her family, but she was determined to continue to build on the success of RJR for her employees and children.
A sequestered witness unable to watch the trial, she was asked if there was a question she wanted answered, she said she wanted to know “why.” One deputy who guarded Isaak throughout the trial, transporting him from his holding cell to the courtroom, told Court TV we will likely never know, ‘This is like a suicide,” she said. “You don’t know why unless they leave a note.”
MORTON COUNTY, N.D. — A North Dakota chiropractor is on trial for a grisly quadruple homicide that shocked the town of Mandan, a small community west of Bismarck.
Investigators say Chad Isaak stabbed four people to death at RJR Maintenance and Management on April 1, 2019. Although a motive has not been reported, a probable cause affidavit states the business managed a mobile home park where Isaak lived. 52-year-old Robert Fakler, 42-year-old Adam Fuehrer and married couple William Cobb, 50, and Lois Cobb, 45, were killed in the attack. A coroner’s death report says the Cobbs and Fuehrer were also shot.
Authorities say surveillance video shows a suspect entering RJR at 6:47 a.m., then leaving 13 minutes later in a company vehicle. That vehicle was reportedly found one block away with “blood smears” on the door handles. More surveillance video showed the suspect walking to a nearby McDonald’s, where a witness says he got into a “newer white Ford F-150” and drove off.
A McLean County Sheriff’s deputy ultimately recognized the vehicle as belonging to his chiropractor, Chad Isaak, according to the affidavit. Three days after the murders, Isaak was pulled over during a traffic stop. Upon reportedly finding blood in his vehicle, authorities obtained a search warrant for Isaak’s home and business.
Investigators say Isaak’s home smelled of bleach, and clothing consistent with what the suspect was wearing in the RJR surveillance video was found in his dryer. A knife was also reportedly found in his washing machine.
Isaak is facing multiple charges, including four counts of murder. Court TV will carry the proceedings live, beginning with opening statements Wednesday, August 4.
DAY 13 – 8/20/21
- The jury reaches a verdict: guilty on all charges
- The judge orders a presentencing investigation – sentencing to be scheduled at a later date
DAY 12 – 8/19/21
- Both sides deliver their closing argument
- The jury of 6 men and 6 women deliberated for about 3 hours without reaching a verdict before calling it quits for the evening – deliberations will continue Friday
DAY 11 – 8/18/21
- Defense rests after calling 6 witnesses
- Defense case backfires after one client says Isaak moved her noon appointment to later in the afternoon on April 1 because he had a “dentist appointment”
- Defendant Chad Isaak gets animated when it looks like he’s caught in a lie
- WATCH: 8/18/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 11
DAY 10 – 8/17/21
- State of North Dakota rests after 10 days of testimony, 53 witnesses and 927 exhibits
- Firearms expert testifies that bullets recovered from the victims and shell casings were similar and could have been fired from the same gun
- Fibers from all four victims were a match to the defendant’s orange hoodie and reversible ski mask
- WATCH: 8/17/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 10
DAY 9 – 8/16/21
- DNA Analyst testifies blood in the defendant’s vehicle is linked to Robert Fakler and Lois Cobb
- Defense questions gaps in chain of custody of evidence transferred from Mandan P.D. to labs for analysis but fails to persuade judge that the results from testing are inadmissible.
- Forensic Scientist finds human blood in RJR and Defendant’s vehicle but no blood on his clothes
- No DNA detected from dirt samples where the suspect urinated
- WATCH: 8/16/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 9
DAY 8 – 8/13/21
- Bloody shoeprint found at the crime scene is the same size and style of shoe worn by the defendant
- Search of defendant’s vehicle produced his wallet with RJR business card and a presumptive test for blood in the vehicle was positive.
- Gloves found in the defendant’s home appeared to be bleached and looked like the same ones worn by the killer
- Supervisory agent is sure Isaak committed the murders but could find no motive
- WATCH: 8/13/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 8
DAY 7 – 8/12/21
- Defendant appeared nonchalant and ‘smirked’ when he was taken into custody by a platoon of heavily armed officers
- 14-inch knife was recovered in a search of defendant’s house
- Search also turns up similar clothes to what the suspect was seen wearing entering and leaving RJR
- More incriminating evidence found in the defendant’s freezer – a Tupperware labeled ‘Chad’s veg soup’ contained gun parts believed to be part of the murder weapon
- WATCH: 8/12/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 7
DAY 6 – 8/11/21
- Video of the victims arriving at RJR
- Video of the suspect coming and going
- McLean County Sheriff’s Lieutenant makes the connection between the suspect’s truck and the defendant–his chiropractor
- WATCH: 8/11/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 6
DAY 5 – 8/10/21
- Prosecutors spent the day laying the ground work for a visual presentation that purports to track the suspect leaving RJR – after a murder spree that left 4 people dead – to his exit from Mandan toward Washburn, where the defendant was eventually arrested.
- The much anticipated evidence is cobbled together from surveillance video provided by neighboring businesses that according to police captured the suspect leaving RJR and tracking him to his vehicle at McDonald’s, where he modified his appearance before making his getaway out of Mandan.
- Five days and 37 witnesses later prosecutors are beginning to make the connection between Defendant Chad Isaak and the terror that was wielded at RJR the morning of April 1, 2019.
- Acting on a tip from a McDonald’s employee who observed a suspicious person in a ski mask get into a white Ford pickup, investigators canvassed the area for surveillance video. Officers collected evidence from 11 businesses in the surrounding area that had video featuring the suspect and/or his white truck.
- Former Mandan Police Officer Tyler Henry isolated the significant portions of the videos and created a timeline that tracked the suspect from RJR to his vehicle up until he left town. BCI Special Agent Alex Droske enhanced the videos and made side by side comparisons of the suspect’s vehicle as seen by the different businesses to the defendant’s own white pickup truck.
- Ben Zachmeier of Big O Tires, the tire shop next to McDonald’s, testified he checked his video and discovered a masked individual dressed in dark clothes walk through his property in the early morning hours of April 1, 2019. On a hunch he checked to see if he appeared at any other time, and found what he believed to be the same individual parking at McDonald’s a week earlier and walking through his lot. His discovery suggests the attack at RJR could have been planned or rehearsed and prompted investigators to look for additional video from March 25.
- On cross defense attorneys challenged the videos as being unreliable and gaps and suggested gaps in the sequences reflected an inaccurate timeline. They also questioned the accuracy of the images with cameras being obstructed in some cases and positioned at a considerable distance from the road.
- WATCH: 8/10/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 5
DAY 4 – 8/9/21
- Medical examiner testifies one killer could have used the same knife to inflict the more than 100 stab wound across all 4 victims – and the same gun to shoot the three employees.
- Lead case agent surmises this was a targeted killing
- McDonalds’ employee testifies that a man in a ski mask turned up at McDonalds acting suspicious the morning of April 1.
- WATCH: 8/9/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 4
DAY 3 – 8/6/21
- Analysis of crime scene and bodies
- Footprint linked to the killer
- Photos of RJR truck the killer stole and left at Indigo Sign
DAY 2 – 8/5/21
- Emotional testimony from Jackie Fakler, the victim’s widow
- WATCH: Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Victim’s Widow Testifies
- Fakler testifies she doesn’t know the defendant – and that he was a model tenant
- Fakler denies ever saying that she would ‘have (her husband) taken care of’ if he cheated
- Videos of the crime scene cause family members to break down
- Crime scene reconstructionist takes the jury on a virtual walkthrough of the crime scene
- WATCH: 8/5/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 2
DAY 1 – 8/4/21
- The jury hears opening statements
- Defense inferred in its opening statement that Jackie Fakler — who owned RJR Maintenance & Management with her husband, Robert — may have had a motive to kill her husband after it was revealed that Robert had a long term affair with Lisa Nelson
- According to the defense, Lisa Nelson blamed her divorce on Robert and had a restraining order against her husband who has a criminal past
- In his opening statement, defense attorney Bruce Quick said an employee had heard Jackie Fakler say she would never divorce her husband but would instead have him “taken care of.” Quick said Fakler has admitted to making the statement but denied any criminal intent
- WATCH: 8/4/21 Quadruple Murder in a Small Town: Day 1
Court TV Senior Director Grace Wong contributed to this report, originally published July 30, 2021.