Ex-wife's boyfriend charged in dog trainer's slaying
T. Mark Stover, a nationally known dog trainer whose clients have included the Mariner's Ichiro Suzuki and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, is missing and presumed slain, and his ex-wife's boyfriend has been charged with the murder, say investigators with the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.
Seattle Times staff reporter
T. Mark Stover, a nationally known dog trainer whose clients have included the Mariner's Ichiro Suzuki and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, is missing and presumed slain, and his ex-wife's boyfriend has been charged in connection with his slaying, say investigators with the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Stover, who ran Island K-9 Training from his home near Anacortes, was last seen by his employees before 9 a.m. on Oct. 28. Michiel Glen Oakes, 41, of Kennewick, was arrested the next day, just hours after Stover was reported missing.
Oakes is being held in Skagit County Jail on $5 million bail.
According to an affidavit filed by the Sheriff's Office, the first clues in the case were gathered Oct. 28, while Stover, 57, was thought to be seeing clients in Seattle.
According to the affidavit, a woman called the Skagit County Sheriff's Office shortly before noon to report that two vehicles were illegally parked at the Summit Park Grange, a half-mile from Stover's house. The two cars were parked back to back in an area of the grange that had been closed off with a locked chain, the woman told police.
She also said there was clear plastic stretched between the two vehicles, police said.
The woman got the license-plate numbers, and the cars turned out to be registered to Stover and Oakes.
Oakes' car was gone by the time a deputy responded, but Stover's unoccupied station wagon was still there. The car remained there when the deputy left.
The deputy stopped Oakes a short time later, the affidavit says. Oakes said he was lost and denied having been behind the grange, according to police.
He was let off with a warning, but the deputy noticed, according to the affidavit, that the back of the car appeared to be "full of blankets or sleeping bags."
Deputies were called to Stover's residence in the 13100 block of Thompson Road on Oct. 29, when his employees arrived to find Stover's dog was wounded and bloody. The dog survived.
Deputies found what appeared to be blood stains on the front porch and in the house.
They also noted the bathroom was unusually clean and smelled like "fresh bleach," according to the affidavit.
A few hours later, Stover's station wagon was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Northern Lights Casino, on the Swinomish Indian Reservation, about three miles from the grange. Police found what appeared to be bloody fingerprint smears in the station wagon.
According to Chief Criminal Deputy Will Reichardt, Stover's former wife, Linda Opdycke, called the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office when she learned on Oct. 29 that her ex-husband had been reported missing. Oakes and his car — the same one spotted near the grange — were at her home when Okanogan deputies arrived, according to the affidavit. She is cooperating with the investigation.
Oakes excused himself, saying he needed to get some medicine from his car, according to the affidavit. Oakes retrieved a white plastic bag from his car and threw it over an embankment.
Police retrieved the bag, which smelled like bleach, according to the affidavit, and it contained a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Police have been searching the Swinomish Channel, which separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland, for Stover's body after a cadaver dog last week indicated a body may have been in the area.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org