Tag Archives: Alaska

The Wreck of the SS Princess Sophia – The Unknown Titanic of the West Coast



 

The deadliest marine disaster on the west coast of North America occurred in Lynn Canal on October 24, 1918, but few people have ever heard of it. Approximately 345 people died when the SS Princess Sophia slid off Vanderbilt Reef and sank. Did the captain’s recklessness cause the disaster, and did his poor decision-making doom the passengers and crew of the Princess Sophia?

Sources:

SS Princess Sophia Expedition. Available at: http://www.princesssophia.org/history

Sullivan, Toby.  12/12/2018. The Sinking of the Princess Sophia. Kodiak Daily Mirror

Princess Sophia. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Princess_Sophia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 


The Horrible Misdeeds of Papa Pilgrim



Alaska’s slogan is “The Last Frontier,” and to some people, this means Alaska is the wild west, a place with less law and order, and someplace they can live as they choose. The man who called himself Papa Pilgrim believed moving his family to the wilderness of Alaska offered him the opportunity to do anything he wanted. Papa Pilgrim was the worst kind of a hypocrite because he hid his crimes behind his religious zeal. Like a charismatic cult leader, Pilgrim could appear charming and persuasive in public, but there was another side of Papa Pilgrim, and this was the side his family saw all too often.

No one knew of the horrors the Pilgrim family endured at the hands of their father, high on the mountain above McCarthy Alaska.

Robert Hale aka Papa Pilgrim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier. Kizzia, Tom. 6-16-2013. Crown Publisher
https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Kizzia-Pilgrims-Wilderness-Frontier/dp/B00HTJZ38E/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Papa+Pilgrim&qid=1589405614&s=books&sr=1-1

Papa Pilgrim’s Progress: The Dark Tale of an Alaskan Frontiersman. Kirby, Mark. 11/19/2008. Outside Magazine.
https://www.outsideonline.com/1928141/papa-pilgrims-progress-dark-tale-alaskan-frontiersman#close
Hale clan details abuse at the hand of their father, ‘Papa Pilgrim’. Kizzia, Tom. 7-1-2016. Anchorage Daily News.
https://www.adn.com/projects/article/hale-clan-details-abuse-hand-their-father-papa-pilgrim/2013/07/12/
Robert Allen Hale. Wikipedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Allen_Hale

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Would you like to help support Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier? Become a patron and join The Last Frontier Club.
Each month I will provide one or more of the following to club members.
· An extra episode of Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier available only for club members.
· Behind the scenes glimpses of life and wildlife in the Kodiak wilderness.
· Breaking news about ongoing murder cases and new crimes in Alaska
· Merchandise or discounts on MMLF merchandise or handmade glass jewelry

I am celebrating the grand opening of the Last Frontier Club until the end of June. The names of everyone who joins before then will be placed in a drawing to win Last Frontier Club merchandise, autographed copies of my books, handmade glass jewelry, and more.

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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.


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Double Murder at a Kodiak Fish Site



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.

Sources

Sullivan, Toby. 2016. Sea Stories: Missing brothers turn up dead in Uganik. Kodiak Daily Mirror.
http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/community/article_37f0be0c-485a-11e6-a26e-6ba696185b1e.html

Shepard v. State (2/19/93) ap-1283
http://touchngo.com/ap/html/ap-1283.htm

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Would you like to help support Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier? Become a patron and join The Last Frontier Club.

Each month I will provide one or more of the following to club members.
· An extra episode of Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier available only for club members.
· Behind the scenes glimpses of life and wildlife in the Kodiak wilderness.
· Breaking news about ongoing murder cases and new crimes in Alaska
· Merchandise or discounts on MMLF merchandise or handmade glass jewelry
Follow the link and join the club now!
Become a Patron!

_______________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe to my free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter.

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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.


I am excited to have my novel, Karluk Bones included in the Battle of the Books. Enter the Battle of the Books, and you could win a win a $500 Amazon Gift Card!


Bizarre Murder of a Floatplane Pilot



Anchorage, Alaska is the small plane capital of the world, and flying in Alaska is a thrilling experience where you can view spectacular scenery and reach remote lakes, rivers, and stretches of wilderness that are inaccessible by road. For the commercial pilots who fly these small planes, though, the job can be stressful at times, and they must depend on their skills and common sense. Every year, small plane crashes make the news in Alaska, and sadly, I have known too many pilots who have been injured or killed in crashes. Pilots know their jobs can be dangerous, and commercial pilots are sometimes pressured by their passengers or bosses to fly in marginal weather conditions. The weather might be beautiful in the morning when the pilot leaves base, but he knows conditions can change quickly and weather patterns often vary from one mountain pass to the next. Commercial pilots in Alaska have a tough job, but near the bottom of a pilot’s list of concerns is the fear he will be murdered on the job. After all, who would want to kill his pilot?

I imagine when pilot Robert Feather headed to work at JayHawk Air on the morning of May 15th, 1993, he did not consider he might be murdered by one of his passengers. Maybe he worried about weather conditions or perhaps he was concerned about a strange noise he heard in the plane’s engine the previous day, but murder would not have crossed his mind. Later that afternoon, when a passenger fired a single shot at him, Robert Feather did not have time to think about anything. Within seconds, bullet fragments hit him in the head and killed him.

Sources:

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR CROSS SUMMARY JUDGMENT. Available at: https://www.acluak.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/duryea_v._alaska_decision.pdf

Duryea v. State November 17, 1999, WILLIAM E. DURYEA, APPELLANT, v. STATE OF ALASKA, APPELLEE. Available at: http://ak.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19991117_0042378.AK.htm/qx

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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.


Congressmen Hale Boggs and Nick Begich Disappear in Alaska



On October 16th, 1972, a Cessna 310 with the tail number N1812H operated by Pan Alaska Airways disappeared somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska. The plane was piloted by Don Jonz, 38, the chief pilot for Pan Alaska. Jonz was a military veteran with more than 17,000 hours of flight time. The passengers on the plane were Alaska Congressman Nick Begich, 40, his aide Russell Brown, 37, and Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs, 58, the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader. The three men were planning to attend an election rally for Begich in Juneau.

Was the disappearance due to an accident or something far more sinister?

References include:

Forty years ago yesterday, Hale Boggs, a powerful Democratic congressman with a colorful past, disappeared in a small plane over Alaska

New Details Uncovered in 1972 Disappearance of Congressman Hale Boggs

Hale Boggs’ Plane Vanishes in Alaska: Oct. 16, 1972

Author Writes About Disappearance of Plane Carrying Hale Boggs 43 Years Ago Over Alaska

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Robin Barefield is the author of three Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, and The Fisherman’s Daughter. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.

 


The North Pole Murders



After a string of closely spaced murders of young women near Fairbanks in the late 1970s and early 80s, the abductions and murders stopped. Troopers didn’t believe the vicious killer had suddenly quit murdering young women, but they thought the predator had moved somewhere else. Unfortunately, at the time, they had no database to track the killer’s movements beyond Alaska. Only the deductive reasoning and hard work of seasoned investigators traced the monster four thousand miles to his new hunting grounds.

Further Reading:

Ice Cold Killers: North Pole Slay Ride

Wikipedia: Thomas Bunday

Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Who was Thomas Richard Bunday?

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Robin Barefield is the author of three Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, and The Fisherman’s Daughter. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.


The Hunter: Serial Killer Robert Hansen



Investigators believe Robert Hansen murdered at least thirty women in Alaska between 1971 and 1983. With some of his victims, Hansen brutally raped them and then told them to run while he hunted them down as if they were big game trophies.

Further Reading:

Robert Hansen

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Robin Barefield is the author of three Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, and The Fisherman’s Daughter. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.