Image: Mechele Linehan
Al Grillo  /  AP
Mechele Linehan is seen after being found guilty of first-degree murder in Anchorage, Alaska, on Oct. 22, 2007.
updated 10/28/2008 6:26:24 PM ET 2008-10-28T22:26:24

A man convicted of conspiring with an 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 where he was serving a 99-year sentence.

"Foul play is suspected," said Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers. She would not say how Carlin died or provide other details.

Carlin was convicted in April 2007 of conspiring with former dancer Mechele Linehan to kill her fiance, Kent Leppink, in 1996. Prosecutors say Linehan was a manipulative seductress who used one lover to murder another.

It took until 2006 for charges to be filed. By then Linehan was living in Olympia, Wash., and had married a doctor, earned college degrees and given birth to a daughter. Carlin was working for New Jersey's transportation department.

Prosecutors 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.

$1 million insurance policy
Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman, met Linehan at an Anchorage strip club. 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 Leppink was lured to a remote location 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's body 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 Linehan's motive was the insurance money she mistakenly thought she would be getting, and that Carlin 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.

Victim suspected he'd be killed
Leppink 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. The younger Carlin testified that he saw his father cleaning a pistol with bleach shortly after Leppink was killed, and that Linehan was present.

New technology allowing investigators to recover old e-mails also helped prove a conspiracy.

Carlin and Linehan were convicted of murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison each. Linehan has filed an appeal, and Carlin similarly had maintained his innocence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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