Man accused by police in multiple Fargo killings

FARGO - A Fargo man who shot to viral fame two years ago after pleading guilty to stabbing another man in a three-way sexual encounter gone awry was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder for two separate north Fargo killings in Fargo just hours...

An officer walks in front of a building on the 1200 block of First Avenue North in Fargo, N.D., to the east of an apartment building being surrounded by authorities in north Fargo on Monday, June 22, 2015. Nick Wagner / Forum News Service

FARGO - A Fargo man who shot to viral fame two years ago after pleading guilty to stabbing another man in a three-way sexual encounter gone awry was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder for two separate north Fargo killings in Fargo just hours apart.

It was a relief for LaRae Gehrtz when Ashley Kenneth Hunter was arrested Tuesday morning, about 13 hours after the convicted felon with a string of crimes stretching back 15 years had first been identified by police as a person of interest in connection with a homicide on Monday.

"Can finally breathe again," the New Rockford woman wrote on Facebook. She has a child with Hunter and commented on Facebook that Hunter had threatened her via text in past dealings.

Her posts came shortly after the 35-year-old was taken into custody about 6:30 a.m. just steps away from where a second homicide victim was found shortly after midnight. Shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, police found the first homicide victim in a different north Fargo residence.

The latest victim was a 25-year old man whose body was discovered by firefighters called to a fire report at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment building at 1122 12th St. N. The fire was still smoldering, but Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel wouldn't say if it was related to the murder.


That building, owned by the Fargo Catholic Diocese, is blocks away from the spot where a 45-year-old man was found dead Monday afternoon at 319 12th Ave N.

Both men died of "injuries consistent with violence," Fargo police Lt. Mike Mitchell said in a news release. But authorities didn't specify the nature of the violence. Police also didn't identify either victim, though WDAY-TV reported the man found dead at 319 12th Ave. N. was Clarence Flowers.

Formal charges against Hunter weren't filed yet on Tuesday. Police scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The homicides mark the second and third of the year in Fargo, following the fatal beating of a man outside Rick's Bar last month. The city saw four homicides in 2014 and three in 2013.

Two homicides in as many days is "extremely rare" in Fargo, Vettel said.

Changing neighborhood

Neighbors said Tuesday the area along 12th Street North has changed significantly over the past few years, from single-family homes to multi-unit rental properties.

The area has long played host to North Dakota State University students renting homes in the neighborhood, but lately, things have changed, said John Bultman, who's lived in the neighborhood for 50 years.


There's high turnover, particularly with new residents, some of whom have told him they've fled gang violence in Chicago to start over in Fargo, Bultman said.

"It's crazy what goes on around here," said Bultman. "I keep on top of everything, let police know."

Marc Bancroft, who lives across the street from the second homicide scene, said it's home to five men who told him they were seminary or theology students, some from Minneapolis.

"Pretty nice kids," he said. ""Pretty much kept to themselves."

He had met some of the students when they came to his door and introduced themselves while passing out flyers for a recent public vote involving right-to-life issues, he said.

A spokeswoman for the Fargo diocese confirmed it owns the building as a rental property, but could not provide additional information, including how many people lived there at the time of the killing and who they are.

Diocese officials intend to join Fargo police at a news conference identifying both victims Wednesday morning, said spokeswoman Aliceyn Magelky.

Bancroft said the neighborhood had changed over the past 10 years from being a tight-knit community with people who knew one another well and kept an eye out for one another to a more transitory set of residents.


"People don't look out for each other the way they used to," he said. "Kind of worrying."

Police manhunt

Police said the the first killing on Monday didn't appear to be a random act, and at the time, they did not believe the public was in danger.

The 45-year-old victim had a direct relationship with Hunter, Vettel said. Police are still searching for any ties between Hunter and the 25-year-old.

Within hours of the first body being discovered, police found a Dodge Ram pickup linked to the killing at a nearby apartment.

Hearing Hunter may have had a gun, police brought in the regional SWAT team. Hunter, however, was not inside.

After the second body was found, tips from the public led police to where Hunter was hiding in a four-plex. Investigators interviewed Hunter, but wouldn't disclose what he told them before arresting him on suspicion of double murder. He was already wanted on a shoplifting warrant.

Because police arrested Hunter in connection with both murders, they don't believe the public is in danger, Vettel said.


Police are still awaiting autopsy reports in the two murders.

Long rap sheet

Hunter achieved public notoriety two years ago after he was accused of stabbing another man during their menage a trois with a woman.

When Hunter asked the man to switch positions, the other man refused, enraging Hunter, who allegedly pulled a knife from the couch cushions and attacked the other man, who ran naked and bleeding from the house into the snow.

Hunter was charged in that case with felony aggravated assault, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

He also has a criminal record in North Dakota that extends backs to 2000 and includes felony charges for escape, theft. reckless endangerment and assault, among numerous other misdemeanor offenses.

What To Read Next
Get Local