The national spotlight is shining squarely on North Dakota as an article in the Sunday New York Times focuses on the legal fallout from murder charges in the state's oil-rich Fort Berthold Reservation.

The article, by Deborah Sontag and Brent McDonald, describes the startling rise and fall of then-tribal chairman Tex Hall, against the backdrop of investigations into the chairman's business dealings, and two murders allegedly tied to reservation oil business.

The article tells two parallel stores: that of Hall and of James Henrikson, a drifter with a police record who arrived in North Dakota in 2011. Henrikson and his girlfriend became involved with a number of reservation-based oil development deals.

One of Henrikson's business "associates" vanished in 2012 and is presumed dead. Another associate was shot to death in his home earlier this month.

The Times article claims a connection between Hall and Henrikson, though the exact nature of the relationship remains sketchy. (Hall at one point would deny any relationship.) Relatives of Henrikson's first alleged victim spoke in the article of being stonewalled by Hall's office when requesting an investigation.

After being imprisoned on weapons charged, Henrikson was indicted on charges of murder-for-hire. He pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for July.

Tribal chairman Tex Hall lost his bid for reelection in September. His successor, Mark N. Fox, has vowed to install an Ethics Board and work to clean up corruption.

Read the Times article in its entirety here.

[SOURCE: NY Times]