John Clark Bridges, 42, Missoula, Mont., and formerly of Harrisburg, pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping Thursday in Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck, N.D., following a preliminary hearing, according to the Bismarck Tribune newspaper.
Bridges admitted to kidnapping and murdering Lee Edward Clay, 40, and had earlier told investigators he acted upon a dream.
According to an Associated Press account published in a sister paper, Devils Lake Journal Aug. 1, Bridges told investigators that he felt compelled to kill two people in Bismarck after having a dream about them that made him suspicious.
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 during a dispute. He later was charged in an attack on a Williamson County Correctional Officer.
Bridges is now accused of killing Clay who was a passenger in a van that went into a ditch off Interstate 94 just east of Bismarck on July 6. Highway Patrol Capt. Kyle Kirchmeier earlier said that Clay';s injuries "didn';t match the crash severity."
Clay had a Bismarck address, but recently moved from Georgia. Clay and Bridges apparently met two days earlier while working at a temp agency in Bismark, according to trial transcripts of a North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent testifying in a probable cause hearing.
The Bismarck Tribune published a story Tuesday about the filing of the transcripts."
(Bridges) said that on the night before the incident, he had been in Fargo, and he had a dream that made him suspicious of Mr. Clay and the other individual, and he said that he decided he was going to come back to Bismarck and kill them both," Special Agent Tim Myers testified.
The other individual was not identified in court documents. On July 6, Bridges returned to Bismarck, where he purchased groceries, duct tape, a knife and zip ties at two different stores.
"He explained that he didn';t want to buy them all together, because that would give red flags as to what he might be doing," Myers said.
Investigators said Bridges told them that he coaxed Clay into his van before tying Clay up with the zip ties at knife point. He then used duct tape to cover Clay';s head, hands and feet, according to Myers'; testimony.
Myers said that when Bridges couldn';t find the other person he wanted to kill, he left Bismarck, heading toward an exit onto I-94. By that point, according to Myers, Clay found the hatchet in the van and began to fight with Bridges. Bridges told investigators he was able to grab the hatchet from Clay and killed him with it. Myers said Bridges also said he stabbed Clay with the knife.
Bridges, who has convictions from Illinois for voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, is being held in the Burleigh County Detention Center without bond. He tried to plead guilty during his first court appearance on July 9, but pleading at that phase is not allowed in felony cases.
Killings are rare in North Dakota. FBI statistics show the state had 10 murders or non-negligent homicides in 2010, the most recent year for which full data is available.