Details of Disappearance
Stover was last seen in Anacortes, Washington on October 28, 2009. He has never been heard from again.
After his disappearance, his Chevrolet was found parked at the Northern Lights Casino. There were bloody finger smears on the back. Authorities found blood smears in the downstairs bedroom and hallway of Stover's house, and his bathroom smelled of bleach. His Belgian Malinois dog had been shot in the face; it survived its injuries.
Michiel Glen Oakes was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Stover's case just a few days after Stover was last seen. Oakes is the live-in boyfriend of Linda Opdycke, Stover's ex-wife. Photos of both of them are posted with this case summary.
Stover and Opdycke separated in 2006 and divorced the following year. In early 2008, she took out a restraining order against him and had him arrested. She claimed he harassed her, repeatedly came to her home uninvited and sometimes broke in, and went through her garbage. She stated she was "deathly afraid" of him.
Stover was later convicted of stalking Opdycke. After April 2008, he never contacted her again. His loved ones stated he had moved on from the divorce and no longer obsessed about it, and had become engaged to another woman.
On the night of Stover's disappearance, one of his neighbors called the police to report two suspicious vehicles trespassing at a grange hall half a mile from Stover's home. The neighbor said he saw a man moving a bundle wrapped in plastic from one car to the other.
An officer responded and found two cars, one of them Stover's and the other Oakes's. The officer spoke to Oakes, who claimed he'd stopped at the grange hall to make a phone call. He had a pile of blankets in the back of his car and dog hair on his shirtsleeves. The officer did not see Stover.
Stover's fiancee reported him missing the next day. The police went to Opdycke and Oakes's home to speak to them about the disappearance, and Oakes asked for permission to go get some medication out of his car. When he went outside he threw a plastic bag out over an embankment.
The police got the bag and found a .22 caliber pistol, a hunting mask and a swatch of bloodstained carpet cut from the floor of Oakes's vehicle. He was carrying a 9-millimeter pistol on his person as well. Authorities subsequently searched Oakes's car and found traces of Stover's blood inside. They also found a bullet-proof vest with a spent bullet in it.
At his trial, Oakes admitted to shooting Stover but claimed self-defense. He stated he and Stover got into a confrontation at Stover's home and Oakes shot him and his dog with his own gun.
Oakes said he was carrying two guns himself at the time because Stover's behavior had become increasingly dangerous and threatening, but he hadn't drawn either of them. He said Stover shot him during the fight and the only reason he survived was because he was wearing the bullet-proof vest. He then dumped Stover's body and the murder weapon into the Swinomish Channel behind the Northern Lights Casino.
Oakes claimed he didn't go to the police because he thought no one would believe his story. Prosecutors, however, theorized that Oakes planned Stover's murder, purchased equipment for the killing and body disposal beforehand, then used one of his own guns to shoot the vest as it lay flat on the ground.
Oakes was convicted of first-degree murder in October 2010. The following month, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison, the maximum allowed.
At the time of his disappearance, Stover was a well-known and very respected dog trainer who ran the Island K-9 Training service out of his home. He had trained dogs for many wealthy and prominent people, including at least two rock stars, a professional baseball player and the founder of the Starbucks coffee chain, and he was a certified expert witness who testified about dog behavior in court cases.
Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.