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Jailed ND arson suspect now charged with threatening detective who investigated

Spencer Norton

BISMARCK—A jailed arson suspect US now charged with threatening to harm the detective who investigated his fiancee's house fire.

Spencer Norton, 36, was charged Tuesday, Jan. 2, with felony terrorizing against an adult. He is held at the Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center on separate arson and burglary charges from the fall.

At Norton's preliminary hearing last month, Bismarck Police Detective Jon Lahr testified about his arson investigation, after which Norton snarled, "I'll eat you alive at trial."

A lengthy affidavit describes audio- and video-recorded jail visitations between Norton and Yvette Howell, his fiancee who is also charged in connection to the Nov. 7 fire.

In various vengeful and profane statements he allegedly made to Howell in person and in writing, Norton appeared to threaten Lahr's safety for investigating Howell.

"They've made it personal," he allegedly wrote in a Dec. 19 letter to Howell. "When I get out, next month or in 10 years, I'm going to make it personal."

In other alleged statements, Norton threatened to beat or apparently shoot Lahr.

"It's beyond the courtroom with me," Norton allegedly said in a Dec. 21 visitation with Howell.

Norton was apparently aware he was being recorded, according to court documents.

"My advice to them, 'cause I know they are listening, is you better win trial for the sake of your loved ones," he allegedly told Howell on Dec. 19.

South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell set Norton's bond for terrorizing at $5,000 cash. Burleigh County Senior Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer is prosecuting.

Norton's burglary and arson charges are set for separate trials later this month at the Burleigh County Courthouse.

Howell is due for trial in mid-February on tampering with physical evidence.