Tag Archives: Murder Podcast

The Secrets of Mendeltna Lodge



Neighbors suspected Elmer Haab was up to no good, and when his wife, Bonnie, mysteriously disappeared, they feared Elmer had done something to her. Alaska State Troopers also found the disappearance of Bonnie Haab suspicious, but with no body, there was little they could do.

Sources:

Anderson, Dianne. “Haab leads troopers to pyre where he burned wife’s body.” July 17, 1969. Anchorage Daily Times.

Anderson, Diane. “Man admits he cremated body of his wife.” July 16, 1969. Anchorage Daily Times.

Anderson, Dianne. “The last time he saw Bonnie, her face was bruised and bleeding.” July 7, 19, 1969. Anchorage Daily Times.

Brennan, Tom. Cold Crime. Chapter 2: “Mystery of Mendeltna Lodge.” 2005. Kenmore, WA. Epicenter Press.

Drebert, Richard. “Ashes on the Mendeltna.” Cache of Grace.

Maguire, Sean. “The Mendeltna Creek Lodge near Glenallen has burned down.” KTUU News.

Webster, Dave. “Police crack theft ring; three sought.” February 22, 1968. Anchorage Daily Times.

Webster, Dave. “Suspect in theft ring is arrested.” February 23, 1968. Anchorage Daily Times.

“Elmer Haab nabbed by Arizona Sheriff.” April 10, 1968. Anchorage Daily Times.

“Haab sent to Arizona.” September 4, 1969. Anchorage Daily Times.

“Police jail theft suspect.” March 15, 1968. Anchorage Daily Times.

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Karluk Bones Audiobook Narrated by Beth Chaplin

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Join the Murder and Mystery in the First Frontier Facebook Group!

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Robin Barefield is the author of five Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, Karluk Bones, and Massacre at Bear Creek Lodge. She has also written two non-fiction books: Kodiak Island Wildlife and Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier. Sign up to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.

Subscribe to Robin’s free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter for more stories about true crime and mystery from Alaska.
Join her on:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
Visit her website at http://robinbarefield.com
Check out her books at Author Masterminds

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If you would like to support Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier? Become a patron and join The Last Frontier Club.
Each month Robin 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

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Merchandise! Visit the Store

 

 


FTA: Murder at the North Pole



After a string of murders of young women near Fairbanks in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the abductions and murders mysteriously stopped. Troopers didn’t believe the vicious killer had suddenly halted his murder spree, but they feared 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 to his new hunting grounds, four thousand miles away.

Sources:

Brennan, Tom. Murder at 40 Below. Chapter 9: “Having trouble with girls.” 2001. Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press.

Capps, Kris. “Bunday never denied he was killer, trooper recalls.” March 17, 1983. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Capps, Kris. “Bunday was suspect in 1980.” March 17, 1983. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Fisher, Susan. “Authorities were awaiting more facts.” March 17, 1983. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Ice Cold Killers. Season 1, episode 5: “North Pole slay ride.”

“Troopers release summary of Thomas Bunday murder case.” April 29, 1983. Fairbanks Pioneer All Alaska Weekly.

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For this offer, go to https://publication consultants.com

At checkout, request an autographed copy, and you will receive a 30% discount.

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Karluk Bones Audiobook Narrated by Beth Chaplin

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Join the Murder and Mystery in the First Frontier Facebook Group!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robin Barefield is the author of five Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, Karluk Bones, and Massacre at Bear Creek Lodge. She has also written two non-fiction books: Kodiak Island Wildlife and Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier. Sign up to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.

Subscribe to Robin’s free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter for more stories about true crime and mystery from Alaska.
Join her on:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
Visit her website at http://robinbarefield.com
Check out her books at Author Masterminds

___________________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to support Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier? Become a patron and join The Last Frontier Club.
Each month Robin 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! Visit the Store

 

 


Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier Trailer



Trailer for Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier

Welcome to Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier. Listen to tales of true crime and mystery in Alaska.

What evil lay in store for the residents of McCarthy, Alaska, when they gathered to meet their weekly mail plane?

Did infamous serial killer Robert Hansen fly his victims into the wilderness and hunt them just as he had hunted the trophy animals hanging on the walls of his home?

Who slaughtered the Coulthurst family and their crew on the Fishing Vessel Investor and then set fire to the boat?

Who kidnapped the Fandel children?

What horrors awaited the residents of Manley Hot Springs when they visited the boat landing?

Why did a young man in Palmer, Alaska, attack his father and his girlfriend with a machete?

Was the disappearance of the plane carrying Representatives Hale Boggs and Nick Begich an accident or something much more sinister?

Why do so many people step into the Alaska wilderness and disappear?

What is the Alaska Triangle, and is there any evidence that it actually exists?

I invite you to listen to Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier and hear these and many other tales about the dark side of Alaska.

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Read More Alaska Murder and Mystery

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Robin Barefield is the author of five Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, Karluk Bones, and Massacre at Bear Creek Lodge. She has also written two non-fiction books: Kodiak Island Wildlife and Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier. Sign up to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.

Subscribe to Robin’s free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter for more stories about true crime and mystery from Alaska.
Join her on:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
Visit her website at http://robinbarefield.com
Check out her books at Author Masterminds

 

 


Who Murdered Cecil Wells?



A wealthy, powerful man, a beautiful widow, a scandalous affair, a murder, and a suicide: This true-life crime drama had it all, except for the answer to the question: Who killed Cecil Wells?

Sources

Bartlett, James T. The Alaskan Blonde. 2022. North Haven, CT. Territory Books.

Johnny Warren

Reamer, David. “In 1953, Cecil Wells was a rich and powerful Alaska Businessman. His murder made headlines nationwide.” August 30, 2020. Anchorage Daily News.

“Wells, Cecil M.” Alaskahisitory.org. Anchorage 1910 – 1940. Legends and Legacies. https://www.alaskahistory.org/biographies/wells-cecil-m/

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on this case:

Read The Alaskan Blonde by James Bartlett

Check out The Alaskan Blonde Website

Watch my interview with James Bartlett, the author of The Alaskan Blonde.

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Read More Alaska Murder and Mystery

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Karluk Bones Audiobook Narrated by Beth Chaplin

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Join the Murder and Mystery in the First Frontier Facebook Group!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robin Barefield is the author of five Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, Karluk Bones, and Massacre at Bear Creek Lodge. She has also written two non-fiction books: Kodiak Island Wildlife and Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier. Sign up to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.

Subscribe to Robin’s free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter for more stories about true crime and mystery from Alaska.
Join her on:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
Visit her website at http://robinbarefield.com
Check out her books at Author Masterminds

___________________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to support Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier? Become a patron and join The Last Frontier Club.
Each month Robin 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! Visit the Store

 

 

 

 


Murder on Shuyak Island



On November 12th, 2015, Peter, the Island Air, mail-plane pilot, landed at Port William Wilderness Lodge on Shuyak Island. The lodge occupies an old cannery, and Peter found this stop memorable because instead of both of the lodge’s caretakers greeting him, as usual, only one caretaker, 44-year-old Steven Ridenour, met the plane. Peter wondered why the other caretaker, Steven McCaulley, 56, also did not arrive to help unload the freight. Since the tide was high, the plane could not pull up to the beach, and Ridenour had to ferry the mail to shore by boat. Without McCaulley there to assist, the job proved difficult and time-consuming. Peter also found it curious that Ridenour simply stacked the freight above the high-tide mark, grabbed his gear, and jumped on the plane for a ride back to Kodiak. Ridenour then flew to Anchorage where he lived.

On November 15th, Steven Ridenour called the manager of Port William Wilderness Lodge, told him he’d quit his job, and asked for his past four paychecks. On November 17th, Steven Ridenour’s brother, Don, called the lodge manager and said his brother sent him and other family members Facebook messages stating he killed his fellow caretaker, Steven McCaulley, in self-defense, and he needed money to leave the state. The manager contacted the Alaska State Troopers and requested a welfare check on McCaulley at the lodge.

SOURCES:

Christiansen, Scott. 3-17-2017. I killed a man on Shuyak who tried to kill me with a chainsaw. Kodiak Daily Mirror. Available at http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/news/article_533bfb52-0abc-11e7-bc83-97c66a534f34.html

Christiansen, Scott. 3-15-2017. Shuyak Island killing case goes to trial. Kodiak Daily Mirror. Available at http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/news/article_cc2b2096-0923-11e7-a7e6-7b4185115b1c.html

Christiansen Scott. 4-7-2017. Murder defendant’s phone messages point to heavy drinking. Kodiak Daily Mirror. Available at http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/news/article_2f0b2b10-1b3b-11e7-8882-af591c19cbde.html

Associated Press. 9-20-2018. Anchorage man sentenced to 62 years in murder of co-worker at lodge near Kodiak. Anchorage Daily News. Available at https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/crime-courts/2018/09/20/anchorage-man-sentenced-to-62-years-in-murder-of-co-worker-at-lodge-near-kodiak/

__________________________________________________________________________
If you would like to 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
Become a Patron!

__________________________________________________________________________
Check out the store: Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier merchandise.

___________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe to my free, monthly Murder and Mystery Newsletter for more stories about true crime and mystery from Alaska.
Join me on:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
LinkedIn
Visit my website at http://robinbarefield.com
Check out my books at Author Masterminds
___________________________________________________________________________
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.

 


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.

Join me on:
Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

LinkedIn

Visit my website at http://robinbarefield.com

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!


Serial Murderer Gary Zieger



Gary Zieger

Gary Zieger, a brutal serial killer, stalked the streets of Anchorage in the early 1970s. We’ll never know how many people Zieger killed, but eventually, the psychopath made a fatal mistake.

During the period when serial killer Robert Hansen terrorized Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska, another brutal murderer roamed the same area. While Hansen selected and hunted his prey, Gary Zieger used women and men for his satisfaction and then simply discarded them. Zieger seemed unwilling or unable to control himself and was sure to self-destruct.

When two hikers discovered the body of Celia Beth Van Zanten at McHugh Creek State Park south of Anchorage, they knew she had suffered a horrible death. Someone had gagged her and tied her hands behind her back with speaker wire; her body was naked below the waist. The pathologist later determined Beth had been raped and her chest slashed with a knife. She was still alive when she was either thrown or fell into a ravine. She apparently tried to climb out of the steep-walled crevice, but with her hands tied behind her back, she had no way to pull herself up the cliff, and she repeatedly fell until she froze to death in the frigid December weather.

Investigators discovered tire tracks turning lazy circles in the parking lot of the campground, and they deduced Beth escaped her attacker, ran down the steep slope, and probably fell into the ravine. Her abductor circled the parking lot waiting for her to reappear, but when she never did, he finally left.

Beth disappeared on December 23, 1971, while walking from her house to a local convenience store. What happened during her short walk down the street?

Soon after the hikers discovered Beth Van Zanten’s body on Christmas day, 18-year-old Sandra Patterson, the daughter of an Alaska State Trooper, came forward to report her abduction on December 19th. Sandra worked as a prostitute to support her heroin addiction. She was working in the parking lot of the Nevada Club in Anchorage when a man pointed a gun at her and told her he would kill her if she didn’t do what he wanted. She described her attacker as a slender man in his mid-twenties wearing horn-rimmed glasses. The man drove Sandra to a motel on the Kenai Peninsula, nearly one-hundred miles south of Anchorage and raped her. On the drive back to Anchorage, he threatened to kill her if she reported him to the police. Sandra complied with his demands to remain silent until she heard about Beth Van Zanten’s murder, and then she knew she had to come forward and tell authorities about her abduction.

Police asked Sandra to study a book of photos of known sex offenders to see if she could pick out the man who had kidnapped and raped her. She immediately identified her attacker as Robert Hansen. Hansen’s photo was in the book because he was awaiting trial for the attempted kidnapping of a young Anchorage woman.

Hansen was initially charged with kidnapping and raping Sandra Patterson, but prosecutors considered Patterson an unreliable witness, and the charges were eventually dropped. Meanwhile, nothing tied Hansen to the murder and abduction of Beth Van Zanten, and to this day, authorities remain unsure whether Beth was murdered by Hansen, by someone she knew, or by another brutal killer named Gary Zieger.

Sources:

Brennan, Tom. 2005.  Alaska’s Billy The Kid Brennan, Cold Crime. Epicenter Press.
Butcher Baker: Lonesome Death of Beth Van Zanten: The Killer is Killed by Lealand E. Hale
Turnagain Currents: The Hired Gun by Mike Gordon

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Subscribe to my Murder and Mystery Newsletter with links to all my podcast episodes.

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Visit my website at http://robinbarefield.com
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 Murders at Manley Hot Springs



Michael Silka

Manley Hot Springs, located 160 miles west of Fairbanks, marks the end of the road, where civilization meets wilderness, and the boat landing in Manley Hot Springs offers the last portage for fishermen, trappers, and wanderers to launch their boats and travel further up the icy Tanana River. Because the road ends in Manley, residents admit they see their share of drifters and people trying to escape from somewhere or something. When Michael Silka arrived in Manley on Monday, May 13, 1984, folks accepted him as another straggler searching for a new life. They should have been terrified. Michael Silka was about to forever change sleepy Manley Hot Springs.

Sources:

Ice Cold Killers: Season 1, Episode 5: Frozen Carnage

Tactical Life. Michael Alan Silka and the Firefight at Manley. Available at: https://www.tactical-life.com/lifestyle/military-and-police/firefight-at-manley/ 

Michael Silka -Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Silka

Michael Alan Silka Murderpedia: https://murderpedia.org/male.S/s/silka-michael.htm

Murder at 40 Below: Manley Hot Springs Murders

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Subscribe to Murder and Mystery Newsletter with links to all my podcast episodes.

Just Released: Karluk Bones

Join me on:
Facebook
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Visit my website at http://robinbarefield.com

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.