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Week two recap: the Mandan Murders Trial

Published: Aug. 15, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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MANDAN, N.D. (KFYR) - The trial for Chad Isaak, the man accused of murdering four people at RJR in Mandan in 2019, started with prosecutors setting the scene of the crime and profiling a suspect during week one.

Week two started with Medical Examiner Dr. William Massello III taking the stand to testify about the extent of the victims’ injuries.

“Some of the wounds could have been through an arm and into the body, or they may have been separate wounds, and then he had 28 stab wounds to the front of his body,” said Dr. Massello.

Dr. Massello outlined how the suspect shot the victims and stabbed them more than 100 times total.

Then the state started with a tip from a McDonald’s employee and put together a timeline of security camera videos. They pointed out that video of April 1st, the day of the murders, mirrored video on March 25th and outlined how investigators tracked their suspect to Washburn.

“An individual got out of that vehicle and walked over towards our property,” said Ben Zachmeier, former Big O Tires Operating Partner.

Defense questioned witnesses about the short time frame of the murders, other individuals seen in the videos, and noticeable time gaps.

“So would it be fair to say that they just appear after the gap in the video?” asked defense attorney Jesse Walstad.

“Yes,” replied Andrew Nicola, a former Schmidt Auto employee.

“And we can’t tell where their point of origin is,” Walstad continued.

“No,” responded Nicola.

Investigators then described how they connected the truck seen in security videos to Chad Isaak’s Ford F-150.

“We can also see that the rust pattern along the wheel well is similar in all three photos,” said BCI Special Agent Alex Droske.

Chad Isaak was stopped by police and search warrants were granted for his person, residence, business, and truck. Prosecutors showed the jury physical evidence seized from these locations.

“We knew that the subject had worn gloves into the crime scene when he was doing his crime; so, we were aware that we were going to be looking for gloves,” said BCI Supervisory Special Agent Arnie Rummel.

Investigators say they found orange and black clothing in Isaak’s dryer, a knife in his washer, ammo in a microwave, gun parts in bleach in a freezer, and an RJR business card in Isaak’s wallet. They also say a shoe print from the scene matches shoes found at Isaak’s residence. But investigators did not find a motive.

“We don’t know what the motive always is. We’d like to know what the motive is, but we don’t necessarily find the motive, because some people just kill for fun,” said Rummel.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned the integrity of the search. They asked why bleach smells were not noted in police reports, questioned the number of individuals who owned similar shoes, and asked if items were tested for DNA.

So far investigators have said many items collected were not able to be tested for DNA.

The state will continue to call witnesses for several more days before the defense will have the opportunity to call witnesses of their own.

Judge David Reich expects the trial to conclude by Friday.

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