Doctor had motive, friend of slain Arkansas man said
July 2, 2002
A friend of an Arkansas man found murdered claims a Carson City doctor, questioned in the case, had motive and opportunity.
Carter Elliott and Timothy Robertson were found shot to death in Elliott’s
Conway, Ark., home May 19.
Dr. Richard Conte, 54, was arrested June 21 at his Clear Creek-area home for the alleged kidnapping of his ex-wife Lark Gathright Elliott at gunpoint from Utah. Gathright Elliott was married previously to Carter Elliott and the couple have two grown children.
Investigators said Conte ambushed his ex-wife at her Salt Lake City home. He allegedly admitted drugging her with a sedative, handcuffing and chaining her in the back of his pickup truck and driving her to Nevada, court documents show.
When Douglas County Sheriff’s Department deputies entered Conte’s home in the investigation of the kidnapping, they purportedly found information that led them to contact Arkansas authorities.
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Elliott’s friend and business partner, Danny Cook, told the Log Cabin Democrat that Conte, an emergency room physician at Carson-Tahoe Hospital, may not be the person the public has been led to believe he is.
“There is motive and he had access,” Cook said of Conte. “I feel confident … information will come out that will connect him to Carter’s and Timmy Wayne’s deaths.”
Conte’s attorney Pat Walsh said Friday his client has spoken with Arkansas authorities while in custody on a second-degree kidnapping charge in Douglas County.
Walsh said Conte was in Utah at the time of the murder with car problems.
A representative of Lunt Motors, in Cedar City, Utah, said records indicate
“Dick” Conte had repairs done to his Dodge diesel ,which was towed to the location June 20. The vehicle was released June 21.
Cedar City is 1,400 miles from Conway.
Cook said comments he considers false, made by Gathright Elliott’s brother immediately following her safe return home, has forced him to break his silence.
Among the comments Cook disputes is one in which Gathright said Conte would have no reason to harm Elliott and that “he didn’t have motivation; he didn’t have access.”
That is not true, Cook said.
“I have given police information that contradicts the statement that
Conte had no motive or opportunity,” Cook said, refusing to elaborate for fear he’d compromise the case.
Police have not said what they found in Nevada or if they have any links to the Conway murders.
Carter also took offense to Gathright’s assertion that “there are plenty of people in Carter’s past and in Carter’s dealings” that could have killed him and Robertson.
“Everybody loved Carter Elliott,” Cook said. “There were 800 people at
his funeral. Carter supported multiple ministries and his goal was to fill
every seat at The Church Alive. That finally happened at his funeral.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada has also filed a charge of kidnapping and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Because the charges are brought by different entities, Conte can be tried in both state and federal jurisdictions.