Man Accused of Paying Handyman to Kill Son-in-Law Fights Extradition
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A man accused of a murder-for-hire plot was in an Oklahoma County courtroom Tuesday and stated he would fight extradition to North Dakota where he's charged with conspiring to have his son-in-law murdered.
Investigators said they believe the murder-for-hire was the result of bad blood between Gene Kirkpatrick and his son-in-law, Philip Gattuso, and at the center of it all is a 3-year-old girl.
"My understanding was the he was not happy, the family was not happy with the way Gattuso was rearing the 3-year-old daughter," said Jessica Brown, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson.
Gattuso was left to raise his daughter alone after his wife, Valerie, died in March. Gattuso was beaten to death by a hammer inside his Fargo condominium last week. Investigators now believe Kirkpatrick paid his handyman, Michael Nakvinda, to carry out the gruesome crime. Nakvinda was arrested at his Oklahoma City home last weekend.
"The agreement was Kirkpatrick would pay Nakvinda $3,000 up front and more later after the murder," Brown said.
As for Gattuso's little girl, police said she is safe with another relative.
"The young child is in Oklahoma City. She is in the custody of a relative. We do not believe there is any danger to that child," said Fargo North Dakota Police Chief Keith Ternes.
Kirkpatrick was arrested Monday night at his home in Jones, and news of his arrest came as a surprise to neighbors.
"Shocked... shocked. It is, I just didn't think he was that kind of guy," said neighbor Leon Garr.
Garr said he has lived near Kirkpatrick for several years. He said he heard about the story on the news but didn't realize the connection until today.
"It's sad to hear something like that, especially one of your neighbors who lives close to you," Garr said.
In an arrest warrant from North Dakota, detectives state Mr. Kirkpatrick told Michael Nakvinda he wanted his son-in-law "gone or dead." It goes on to say Nakvinda gave Kirkpatrick a video camera with instructions to tape the Gattuso home during a trip in early October.
Kirkpatrick also admitted to detectives that he met Nakvinda at a restaurant and paid him the money.
More on News9.com: OKC Man Accused of Hiring Handyman to Kill Son-In-Law