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Fargo homicide suspect Henry Deniger arrested in St. Cloud

FARGO - Fargo police, with help from the St. Cloud Police Department, arrested 49-year-old Henry Leo Deniger Sr. in St. Cloud, Minn., Wednesday night in the Fargo murder of his wife, 52-year-old Kathye Raven Deniger, Lt. Joel Vettel announced Wednesday.

Henry Deniger was arrested in the parking lot of a St. Cloud restaurant around 7 p.m., and is currently being held in the Stearns County Jail pending extradition, Vettel said.

Doug Nordling, a correctional officer at the jail, said late Wednesday night that Deniger was being uncooperative and refusing to go through the booking process. As of 6:50 a.m. Thursday, Deniger was still refusing to be booked, a jail staffer said.

Law enforcement authorities were able to locate Deniger in the St. Cloud area by following up on a number of leads and by tracking Deniger's credit cards, Vettel said, calling it "strong police work."

Kathye Deniger appeared to have died from multiple injuries "consistent with the use of a knife or some other edged weapon," Police Chief Keith Ternes said during a news conference earlier on Wednesday.

Although Vettel did not specify a motive in the stabbing, he said investigators were "very comfortable with the entire investigation, including establishing 'why.'"

A social services worker called police at 4:48 p.m. Tuesday to the Arrowhead Estates apartment building at 2601 14th St. S. to check on Kathye Deniger's welfare. Her employer told police she hadn't been seen since the middle of last week, Ternes said.

Henry Deniger also had not been seen in several days, Vettel said, adding that Fargo police would be working over the next few days to establish an accurate timeline of events in order to conclude the investigation.

An autopsy will be performed this morning at the state medical examiner's office in Bismarck, and preliminary results are expected within a day or two, Ternes said.

Police were still trying to notify Kathye Deniger's family Wednesday afternoon, Vettel said. The husband and wife apparently had lived in Fargo for about 18 months, Ternes said, adding it's been a challenge to find her next of kin because they live out of state.

According to Henry Deniger's Facebook profile, the couple had lived in several different states prior to moving to Fargo and have four children.

Kathye Deniger's Facebook profile said she recently worked at the Elim Rehab & Care Center in Fargo.

Kayla Comeaux, 23, who has lived in the same Arrowhead Estates building for about a year and a half, said the husband and wife used to bum cigarettes from her and her boyfriend, but she didn't know their names.

Comeaux, who lives on the first floor, said she would hear the couple arguing when she visited her friend on the third floor.

"They argued a lot up there," she said. "They didn't really talk to a lot of people."

"These walls in this apartment building are paper thin, so you can hear everything," she added.

Comeaux said she last saw Henry Deniger at about 11:30 a.m. or noon Saturday when she returned from an out-of-town trip to pick up her mother.

"He was getting into his car," she said.

The vehicle was an older white-and-yellow Chevy pickup he bought three weeks ago, Comeaux said.

"And it had some Bondo all along the right-hand side of the back of it because he was trying to fix it up, he said," she said.

On Tuesday, the apartment manager let police into the 24-unit building, located near Kmart on South University Drive. Police found no evidence of forced entry into the woman's apartment, Ternes said.

Ternes wouldn't say whether police had been called to the apartment before or why social services got involved. Tenants have provided information that police believe will be helpful, he said.

Kasara Osborne, 22, who lives down the hall from the victim, said police knocked on her door at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"All they asked me is if I heard a tussle or an argument of any kind," Osborne said. She said she didn't know Kathye Deniger and hadn't seen or heard anything unusual coming from her apartment.

However, Osborne said she did notice red stains - which she now believes were blood stains - on the doorknob of the third-floor stairwell door last week, possibly Thursday, and similar stains on the building's front door.

The stains on the front door were cleaned off before police arrived Tuesday, she said, but the doorknob stains remained.

"They had it completely paper-bagged off, and no one could go up and down the stairs," she said.

Osborne said she didn't know if anyone had reported the stains.

"I guess I just assumed it was paint. I didn't want to touch it," she said.

Comeaux said she also noticed the blood on the front door as she and her son were taking out the garbage on Saturday. She said there were six or seven blood droplets on top of the metal bar that's pushed to open the door.

"I noticed it 'cause I almost stuck my hand in it and I thought it was disgusting," she said.

The building's landlord referred questions to Builders Management & Investment Co. Inc. A BMI official did not return a phone message Wednesday.

Comeaux described the Denigers as "a weird couple." She recalled one time when she was outside smoking at about 3 a.m. on a weekend night and they came outside to go for a walk.

"They were always out there late, walking around," she said. "I'd be taking my son to school at 6 in the morning and they'd be walking back from somewhere."

Ternes said investigators were at the crime scene until after 1 a.m. Wednesday. They secured it before leaving and returned mid-morning.

At about 9:15 a.m., a Fargo officer sat on a chair in the hallway, guarding the door to the crime scene. A detective showed up, followed by the Red River Valley SWAT team van, to further process the scene.

The homicide is Fargo's first of the year. The last homicide in the city occurred Sept. 11, 2011, when 28-year-old Tremaine Settles was stabbed to death during a fight at an apartment at 2608 Pacific Drive S. Prosecutors determined the stabbing was self-defense, and no charges were filed.

Fargo averages one or two homicides a year, but in some years there have been none, Ternes said.

"Violent crime like this does not happen with any frequency in our community, which obviously is a good thing," he said. "But it certainly demonstrates that it can happen."

Vettel called the stabbing a tragedy, but said it was important to note that it was not a random act of violence.

"It was very specific to these individuals, and it certainly lends some credence to our issue that we've talked about most recently the last several months, and that's the issue of domestic violence," he said.