UPDATE: North Dakota murderer dies by suicide in prison; many still left with more questions than answers

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 1:08 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - UPDATE 8/16/22: The State Forensic Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed that Chad Isaak died by hanging.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/1/22: Convicted murderer Chad Isaak is dead. North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers responded to the State Penitentiary at 5:45 p.m. Sunday for a report that Isaak had caused self-harm. Isaak was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m.

Last August, after only four and a half hours of deliberation, a jury found Chad Isaak guilty of murdering four RJR employees. Attorneys in the case said the crime was one of the worst the state has ever seen.

Family and friends of victims Robert Fakler, Adam Fuehrer, William Cobb, and Lois Cobb learned of the perpetrator’s death shortly after it occurred.

“I don’t think we will ever be able to 100 percent move forward. We just know how his family is feeling now. And that’s the most important thing is we know they’re grieving right now,” said Jamie Binstock, daughter of Robert Fakler.

They are still left with more questions than answers.

During the trial, prosecutors laid out evidence that the jury agreed pointed to Isaak. The evidence included what analysts say was blood found on the door handles of Isaak’s pickup truck and upholstery, but no motive was ever produced, and now, the reason for the crimes may never be known.

“It still leaves the victims’ families and friends, you know his own family, with a number of unanswered questions,” said Gabrielle Goter, state’s attorney during the trial.

Last December, Judge David Reich sentenced Isaak to four consecutive life sentences with no opportunity for parole for the crimes. At the sentencing hearing, Isaak spoke to the court for the first and only time.

“I can honestly tell you I am not a murderer,” said defendant Chad Isaak at the December sentencing hearing.

Isaak’s defense team, although not representing him on appeal, could not comment on the state of Isaak’s mental health at trial due to attorney-client privilege.

“My heart goes out to his family. Mother, father, siblings,” said Jesse Walstad, attorney at Vogel Law Firm.

When Your News Leader reached out to the prison Monday morning for information on how the incident was able to occur, they responded with this statement:

“It is still under investigation with the Highway Patrol, so at this time we will need to decline an interview,” said Kayli Richards, director of communications and public information officer for the North Dakota Corrections and Rehabilitation in an email to Your News Leader.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Department of Corrections are investigating the incident.

“[I believe] having worked these types of cases previously, that that will be done and that that will be done thoroughly, to look for what happened here, and you know ultimately, how it came to happen, and I do trust that process will play out,” said Goter.

Isaak had filed for appeal in January.

Isaak’s appeal is still being processed. It will be up to the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal. The state still has 60 days to file their next brief.

Late Monday afternoon, Richards said there is little information that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can release at this time, but did elaborate on the initial report saying: “Mr. Isaak was housed in the south unit at the North Dakota State Penitentiary. He had a roommate; however, his roommate was not present at the time of the incident.”

Richards asked everyone to respect the privacy of those impacted by the death.

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