A former Harrisburg man Tuesday was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murder plus 20 years for kidnapping in North Dakota Tuesday.
John Clark Bridges, 42, most recently a resident of Missoula, Mont., received his sentence in the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismark, N.D., after offering a plea of guilty in August to kidnapping and murdering Lee Edward Clay, 40, in July.
Bridges had told investigators he felt compelled to kill two people in Bismark after having a dream about them that made him suspicious. A crash led police to Bridges and Clay — who was dead with injuries inconsistent with those to be expected in a crash.
According to coverage in the Bismark Tribune newspaper, a psychologist had considered Bridges to be the most psychopathic and dangerous person she had evaluated.
Judge Cynthia Feland told Bridges he was a “cold and calculating individual” who had taken and damaged others’ lives without remorse, according to the Bismark Tribune.
News of the sentence was a relief to Ethelena Taylor of Harrisburg, mother of Danny Taylor, Bridges’ first victim. In 1986 at age 16 Bridges was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Danny Taylor after pulling out a gun and shooting him in a dispute. He later was charged in an attack on a Williamson County Correctional Officer that broke the man’s jaw.
“I said, ‘That wasn’t enough,’” Taylor said of Bridges’ life sentence.
“It justifies nothing to me, but I’m glad he’s locked up to protect other people.”
Saline County Law Enforcement knew Bridges well. He was the first white supremacist former Saline County Sheriff’s Office Jail Administrator David Underwood knew to be held in the jail. Bridges built muscle and was known for doing handstand pushups in his cell. He also had a tattoo of a Swastika on his shaved head.
At one point, held in a correctional facility in Joliet, Bridges escaped for a time and was found.
Taylor and her son Kip of Evansville, Ind., have been in contact with Lee Edward Clay’s mother and understand Bridges was made to provide a DNA sample for a database. Investigators are trying to piece together Bridges’ travels through the years to see if there are unsolved murder or missing persons’ cases they may be able to link to him, Taylor said.
Kip Taylor said Bridges was an intimidating force in Harrisburg before his brother’s death.
“He walked through the neighborhoods in Harrisburg with a trench coat on,” he said.
He said everyone believed he carried a gun under that coat and was hoping for someone to mess with him.
Page 2 of 2 - Taylor said the police knew something bad was bound to happen, but until Danny Taylor’s death there was little they could do.
“They didn’t know what they were dealing with,” he said.
Bridges received only four years on a charge of manslaughter following Danny Taylor’s death. He has been in an out of prison since. The Taylors believe the public is safe with Bridges permanently behind bars.
“I do believe he’s a serial killer,” Kip Taylor said.