ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Another boyfriend of a former Anchorage stripper linked to a 10-year-old slaying testified Wednesday that the exotic dancer used her good looks and played the part of a damsel in distress to bilk him of tens of thousands of dollars.
But what was most remarkable was the breathtaking deception with which Mechele Linehan of Olympia seemingly balanced the multiple men in her life, Brett Reddell said when he took the witness stand in the murder trial of John Carlin III. She strung them along and teased them, never giving them quite what they wanted in order to keep the money coming.
"We all got buffaloed," he said, in an interview after his testimony.
Linehan is scheduled for trial in September. She is in Olympia out of custody on conditions of release. She has pleaded not guilty to her murder charge.
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The last time he saw the Great Alaskan Bush Company dancer was just before she vanished from Alaska with his pickup, which Reddell didn't get back until three years later.
Prosecutor Pat Gullufsen called Reddell to the stand in Anchorage Superior Court to show how men were hooked on Linehan. His case asserts that Carlin, one of several fiances, was so in love with her that he would do anything for her - including kill for her.
He said of Carlin at the time of the May 1996 slaying: "His purpose is to please her. He wants to do whatever he can, he would even lose his own life to make her happy."
Defense lawyers have said Linehan was a manipulator who could have used any number of men to pull the trigger to kill another fiance, Kent Leppink, whose bullet-ridden body was found off a road near Hope. Or, she could have done it herself, they say.
Linehan, who has not been able to defend herself against the accusations coming from both sides, is scheduled to go to trial on a first-degree murder charge in September.
Reddell, 45, lives in Anchorage now, but back in the mid-1990s he was a single father of two children working a construction job in Barrow, he told the jury on Wednesday. He met the stripper at the Bush Company while visiting Anchorage.
While Linehan was engaged simultaneously to the murder victim, the defendant in the case, and a third man, Scott Hilke, Reddell was the boyfriend in Barrow whom she would ask for money for everything from mortgage payments to car payments when she needed it.
Just like the others, Reddell said he was surprised to find out there were other men involved with Linehan.
It was only after investigators interviewed him after the murder that he realized, "I was probably the lowest man on the totem pole," he said.
"She had her ring going," he said. Him in Barrow. Hilke in California. Leppink often in Bristol Bay fishing. And, Carlin in Anchorage.
The relationship between Reddell and Linehan started by visits to the strip club and him showering the dancer with cash, he said. They started dating long-distance shortly thereafter.
She was very pretty, he said, but it wasn't just her looks that drew men in. "It was the way she talked. She was magnetic," he said.
She would tell him that despite the fact that she could make thousands of dollars a night dancing, she was struggling financially. He sent her cashiers checks and he let her use his credit card, he said.
Linehan often talked about money, he said. "She always said she was going to be rich. Her goal was to have lots of money."
In the one year of their relationship, Reddell testified that he only slept with Linehan once.
The last time Reddell heard from Linehan was in 1996 when she borrowed his 1994 pickup and drove to Louisiana. She was supposed to drive back to Alaska but never did. He retrieved the truck from New Jersey three years later.
Reddell only knew of Carlin through Linehan, he said. He met the man just once.
"She utilized so many people in so many ways. It's disgusting what she's done," Reddell said, outside the courtroom.
But he counts himself lucky. At least he's not dead, he said.