Suspects charged in alleged murder plot remain jailed

Carroll County Times/December 29, 2001
By Jeff Simms

Four Westminster residents -- a husband and wife, a live-in companion of the couple and a business associate -- were arrested in October, with each of the four being charged in what amounts to a bizarre, alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Scott Caruthers, 56; his wife, Dashielle Lashra Caruthers, 42; Dulsa Naedek, 43; and David Pearl, 47, were arrested by Maryland State Police on Oct. 3, and were initially charged with solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder. All four remain incarcerated under $1 million bail each.

The group had been scheduled for a district court trial on Jan. 2, though a notice of criminal information filed by the state's attorney's office last week moves the case into circuit court. The four defendants are now slated for an initial circuit court appearance on Feb. 4.

Last week's activity also rearranges the charges that members of the group face. Caruthers is now charged with one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. His wife is now charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Naedek and Pearl are both charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Investigators believe the four suspects may be members of a cult, with Caruthers serving as the group's leader. According to files from a 1999 child custody case between Naedek and Timothy Hackerman, her former husband, Caruthers preached that members of his cult would survive the apocalypse. The file also indicates that a tenet of the group's beliefs included submission of female followers to Caruthers' sexual demands.

State police believe that Caruthers asked Amir Tabassi -- a former bodyguard -- to kill David Gable, who had been a business associate. Caruthers is also alleged to have indicated that Lewis Dardick and Michael Tulkoff had been bothering his family, and that he wanted them both killed as well.

Dardick, a Baltimore County resident, is the former husband of Amy Dardick, a fifth suspected cult member who was arrested on Oct. 19 and also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Amy Dardick was released on bail three days after being arrested.

At the time of her arrest, Amy Dardick gave police an address that matched the one listed for Pearl prior to his incarceration.

Investigators won't comment on their case against Amy Dardick, only saying it's "pending litigation."

Tulkoff's problems with Caruthers apparently began when his family hired a private investigator to research the alleged cult. Hackerman is a fourth suspected murder target in the alleged plot.

Court records indicate that Tabassi approached Westminster attorney Bradley Bauhof in mid-to-late September, and told him about the murder plot. Bauhof encouraged Tabassi to tell Gable about the plot as well. It was Gary Bernstein -- Gable's attorney -- who alerted FBI agents to the alleged plans on Sept. 27.

All four suspects denied a Times interview request after being arrested.

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