'Monster' on meth brutally slays two North Dakota men known for their faith

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Sam Traut (left) and Clarence Flowers were killed separately earlier this week in nearby homes in Fargo, North Dakota. Ashley Hunter was charged in their murders of both known as generous men of faith. | Fargo Police Department

FARGO, N.D. (Christian Examiner) -- Two men of faith were murdered in their homes earlier this week after a man high on methamphetamine entered each of their residences and brutally killed them.

Monday afternoon, Clarence Flowers, a 45-year-old Minneapolis native was stabbed 50 times with a knife by Ashley Kenneth Hunter, 35, according to a police press conference regarding the double homicide.

Flowers, a father of four, was working as a limousine driver after health issues prevented him from continuing his career as a certified nursing assistant.

According to police, Hunter attacked Flowers in his home because he said the man overcharged him for drugs and stole his girlfriends. Though Flowers' had a minor rap sheet, including possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in 2014 -- family and friends said he bore witness to a life marked by faith.

Flowers' mother Carolyn Conner, told Inforum.com that her son was a churchgoer who selflessly helped those in need. Jessica Kapaun, the mother of Flowers' young son similarly described him to the news source saying, "He was a good man, would help anybody who needed help. He was righteous, he was gospel," she said.

Ashley Kenneth Hunter, 35, is charged with the brutal killings of Clarence Flowers and Sam Traut just 12 hours apart in Fargo, North Dakota in late June. He is suspected of beating Traut to death after randomly knocking on the man's door to ask for a glass of water and then beating him to death with a hammer. Earlier, he had stabbed Flowers more than 50 times over a drug dispute, although family and friends said Flowers was clean. After first confessing to police, he denied his actions later in court and said he was using methamphetamine at the time of the killings -- which made him paranoid. | Fargo Police Department

The owner of the limousine service where Flowers' worked, Jemima Heppner, also credited him with kindness.

"He gave glory to the Lord Jesus Christ," Heppner said. "He was the kind of person who would give people rides. He'd always give people second chances. He was always there for you."

Sam Traut, a 24-year-old Minnesota native was in his home near North Dakota State University when Hunter knocked on his door to ask for a cup of water around midnight on Tuesday.

Police stated that Hunter bludgeoned Traut to death with a hammer after he failed to quickly return from fetching water. Having already committed a murder hours before, Hunter became aware that he had appeared as a wanted man on the news. Assuming that Traut delayed in order to alert authorities, Hunter beat him with the hammer.

During the news conference, Fargo police Chief Dave Todd recounted the way Lt. Joel Vettel described the tragic events at the crime scene.

"A good young man unknowingly opened his door to a monster. At that point Samuel Traut was murdered," 

Court records state that Hunter told police he hit the young man "a good three or four times" until he stopped defending himself. Hunter reportedly then set fire to the apartment to cover up the murder, police stated during the press conference.

Traut was a civil engineer deelpy committed to his faith and regularly attended St. Paul's Catholic Newman Center. As a member of the Newman Center Traut spent much of his time at the church and led a Bible study there.

One of Traut's roommates, Christopher Yanta, described him as "really on fire for his faith."

Traut's priest, Father James Cheney, delivered an emotional address about Traut in a press conference announcing the slaying of the two men. "Its really hard for our whole community," Cheney the Newman Center Director said.

Cheney, went on to call Traut "a man of tremendous virtue" and said his death would be a loss to the Catholic community where he was very involved. Naming a few of the activities and programs Traut participated in, Cheney noted that "Sam was a standout individual in every aspect."

"He was daily mass attendee e was a devoted man of prayer," he said. "Sam Traut is gonna be really missed."

Speaking directly to the manner of his death Cheney said, "It is just an act of tremendous, cruel, random violence that deprived all of us of the life of a virtuous man."

According to news reports, Hunter claimed he did not understand the charges against him and denied killing the two men. During a court hearing, a Judge denied Hunter bail because of the severity of the charges against him.