BISMARCK, ND — During the painstaking investigation into her husband’s murder, police repeatedly heard Niki Enzel’s account of what happened to her husband, which often contradicted the evidence they had collected.
“20/20” got exclusive access to a one-on-one conversation with the woman recently convicted of conspiring to kill her husband, Chad Enzel, to ask her about the details of the case. During the interview, Enzel maintained that she was innocent.
A new episode of 20/20 titled “The Last Punch,” set to premiere Friday, March 17 at 9:00 PM ET and air on Hulu the following day, will examine the case.
“Do I eventually want to find out what happened? Yes. I wish I had all the resources in the world to find out what really happened? Yes, I do,” Nikki Enzel told ABC News’ John Kinyons. “Do I have all the resources in the world to find out what happened? No. No one has.”
Nikki Sue Entzel and her husband Chad Entzel. (Kent Heinle)
On the evening of January 2, 2020, authorities received a report of a fire at the home of Chad and Nikki Sue Enzel.
Friends and family remembered Chad Enzel as an avid bowler, darts player and race car driver, and they said Nicky Enzel enjoyed owning a bakery. They lived with Nicky Enzel’s two sons from a previous relationship in a quiet suburb of Bismarck, North Dakota.
Nikki and Chad Enzel are seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy of Marcus Enzel)
For a while, authorities could not determine exactly how Chad Enzel died. After discovering two gunshot wounds and traces of a fire accelerant, they concluded that foul play was involved.
An extensive investigation led to the trial and conviction of his wife — and another man, Earl Howard, a married Canadian man with whom she had recently had an affair, police said. Authorities speculated that they hoped to abscond with the insurance money and move to Texas together.
Howard eventually pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy to commit murder and arson. In a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charge. In February 2022, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
However, Nicky Enzel faced a lawsuit. In October 2022, she was found guilty of conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence, and in February 2023, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Authorities were unable to determine which of the two defendants shot Chad Entzel.
When asked if Howard pulled the trigger, Nikki Enzel told Quiñones that she “wasn’t there” and “can’t say that one hundred percent.” Howard denied to authorities that he pulled the trigger.
Nikki Sue Enzel talks to ABC News reporter John Keenon from prison. (ABC News)
Nikki Enzel told Quiñones that she was out for a walk when the trigger was pulled – in the middle of the night – at a hotel on the other side of town, in the freezing cold. Nikki Enzel said she left her hotel room for a walk around 1 a.m. and “didn’t stop walking until 2:42 a.m.”
However, when police questioned Nikki Enzel days after Chad Enzel’s murder, she offered a very different scenario. In early 2020, Nikki Enzel told police she was in the house and heard gunshots the night of the murder.
Nikki Enzel admitted in an interview with ABC News that her various alibis over the past two years don’t always add up.
“My story changes so many times,” she said, “that none of them are consistent.”
Julie Loyer, the Burley County State’s Attorney who prosecuted Entzel’s case, described Nikki Entzel’s various stories to ABC News during the investigation.
“There is nothing to say [the investigators] what they wanted to hear,” Lauer said. – I told them what, in her opinion, she could get away with.”
Aaron Silbernagel, a former sergeant with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department, described his method for breaking down Nikki Enzel’s many stories.
“I didn’t always correct her on them,” Silbernagel told ABC News. “I would just keep pretending I knew more and then ask her to explain.”
ABC News’ John Quinones interviews Nikki Sue Enzel, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of her husband. (ABC News)
Among her rejections was Nikki Enzel’s characterization of her relationship with Howard. Authorities said they have clear evidence that Enzel lied during questioning about their relationship. Investigators discovered surveillance video showing Nikki Enzel and Howard kissing in public before leaving a local Walmart days before the murder.
When ABC News asked about this romantic connection, Enzel denied it and claimed that Howard was “not my type.”
“I didn’t see a kiss at all,” she initially told ABC News, though later in the same interview she appeared to admit that a kiss might have happened. “I don’t know, he leaned over, I leaned over,” Nicky Enzel said. “Have I kissed many friends on the cheek? Did I kiss my children on the cheek? Have I kissed my exes on the cheek? Yes.”
“20/20” also obtained never-before-seen footage of Howard’s conversation with investigators, where he gave his version of events to authorities.
The video shows Howard claiming he had a romantic relationship with Nikki Enzel.
“I took a trip to Minnesota,” Howard said, “and she met me in Minneapolis. We went to the Mall of America. And then the romance began.”
Howard told authorities that Nikki Enzel went into the house and shot her husband, but he later offered to “take care of it” for her by burning the evidence.
Nikki Enzel’s attorney, Thomas Glass, filed the initial paperwork to begin the appeals process.