During the summer of 1988, I remember the whispers spreading across the island, first about two missing brothers who were fishermen in Uganik Bay, and later, about the mother of those two men discovering their bodies buried in a shallow grave near their fish site. It was the first double homicide in recorded history on Kodiak Island. Uganik Bay, where the murders occurred, is only 30 air miles from where I live, but it’s fifty miles by boat, a world away on Kodiak Island.
Forty-four fishermen died at sea near Kodiak, Alaska in 1988; it is the deadliest fishing year on record. 1988 was also the year fishermen earned $2.40 per pound for sockeye salmon; the highest price ever paid for sockeyes before or since; commercial fishing proved lucrative but dangerous in 1988.
Alaska fishermen know their jobs involve risk. They work on the North Pacific, often in big seas and brutal weather, but no fisherman expects to be murdered by his crewman.
Sullivan, Toby. 2016. Sea Stories: Missing brothers turn up dead in Uganik. Kodiak Daily Mirror.
Shepard v. State (2/19/93) ap-1283
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Robin Barefield is the author of four Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, and Karluk Bones. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.