Gunman in notorious Alaska murder found dead

Spokeswoman says foul play is suspected in John Carlin's death

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The man convicted of conspiring with a beautiful ex-stripper to kill her fiance more than a decade ago was found dead in an Alaska prison.

John Carlin, 51, was found dead Monday night at the Spring Creek Correctional Center, a maximum security prison in Seward.

"Foul play is suspected," said Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers.

Carlin was convicted in April 2007 of conspiring with former dancer Mechele Linehan to kill Linehan's fiance, Kent Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman.

Prosecutors say she was a manipulative seductress who used one lover to murder another.

They claimed Linehan was inspired by watching the 1994 movie "The Last Seduction," in which a femme fatale coaxes her lover into killing her husband for money. Prosecutors wanted to show the movie to jurors in Linehan's trial but were denied.

Leppink, a socially awkward man, met Linehan at an Anchorage strip club, the Great Alaskan Bush Co., and fell in love. He gave her money, helped pay for renovations at her Wasilla home, and made her the beneficiary of his will and a $1 million life insurance policy. However, according to his family, he became suspicious of Linehan's intentions and made his parents the beneficiaries.

In 1996, Linehan and Leppink were living with Carlin while Linehan's home was undergoing remodeling.

Investigators said he was lured to the remote location outside Hope on a search for Linehan. A fake note composed by Linehan and Carlin led Leppink to believe she was staying at a cabin near Hope, a mining community 90 miles south of Anchorage. She had actually flown out of state to meet a former fiance.

Prosecutors say Carlin probably promised Leppink he would lead him to Linehan and drove him to the remote trail.

Leppink was found on a utility right of way, shot at close range in the back, then twice more in the abdomen and head, by a kind of handgun that prosecutors showed had once been owned by Carlin.

Prosecutors said the motive for Linehan was money. She mistakenly believed she would be the beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy.

Prosecutors said Carlin's motive was love - that he hoped to have his own relationship with Linehan after eliminating Leppink.

A month after Leppink's death, Linehan and Carlin bought a recreational vehicle together and moved to Louisiana, prosecutors said.

Leppink reached back from his grave to finger the woman he loved and the man he considered a friend.

He had sent his parents in Shelby, Mich., a sealed letter to be opened after his death. The letter named three possible suspects if he was murdered: Linehan, Carlin and a third man who was not charged but who also had been involved with Linehan.

The case went unsolved for more than a decade. However, cold case investigators reinterviewed Carlin's son, who was a juvenile at the time of the murder, and collected testimony linking Carlin to the case.

Carlin was arrested in 2006 in Elmer, N.J.

Linehan was living in Olympia, Wash., when she was arrested.

The murder weapon was never found and Carlin denied he killed Leppink.

Linehan was convicted of first-degree murder in October 2007. From prison, she claimed she was innocent. She has appealed the conviction.

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