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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.
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/
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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.