Alaska can be a challenging place to find a killer. The unforgiving terrain is not only treacherous, but it can also make evidence gathering extremely difficult. Alaska State Troopers and other Alaskan law enforcement officers face obstacles that are unique to the vast state to the north, but they prove they are not insurmountable. Some of the most infamous murders in the United States have occurred in the state of Alaska and the State Troopers have brought the killers to justice.
The Bonnie Craig Murder
On September 28, 1994 teenager Bonnie Craig was found murdered and lying face down in McHugh Creek in Anchorage, Alaska. She had been abducted from a South Anchorage street, raped, beaten and left for dead in the chilly water. The State Troopers’ investigation was extensive. Investigators took nearly 400 photographs of the crime scene, including: aerial and panoramic photos, photographs of where the body was found, shots of the surrounding crime scene, and a video recording of the scene, but it took seventeen years for the killer to be convicted. Years went by with very few good leads until semen found on Craig was matched to Kenneth Dion when he was convicted of a string of armed robberies that occurred in New Hampshire. The murder and eventual trial rocked the community and put tremendous strain on her family. At last in October of 2011, Dion was convicted of the Bonnie Craig’s murder and sentenced to 124 years in prison.
The Stripper and the Fisherman
In May of 1996, Kent Leppink, a 36 year-old fishing business owner was found murdered in the woods of a town called Hope, 90 miles outside of Anchorage. He had been shot multiple times. Investigators quickly learned that his girlfriend Mechele Linhan, a stripper, had been the beneficiary of a $1 million insurance policy, a policy she did not know that Leppink had cut her out of shortly before his death. She was immediately a prime suspect, but there was not enough evidence to arrest her. It wasn’t until 2004 that investigators were able unearth emails implicating John Carlin, a steelworker and another beau of Linhan’s for luring Leppink to his death in the woods. He was convicted for the murder. State Troopers arrested Linhan in October of 2006. In her trial she was accused of being a seductress and the mastermind of the murder. The jury sentenced her to 99 years in prison. In 2011 the case was overturned based on the evidence being entirely circumstantial and Linhan was set free. However, the love triangle and the ensuing murder continues to captivate the media.
The Trophy Hunter
One of the most notorious serial killers in the United States left a trail of murders in Alaska. Between 1971 and 1983, Robert Hansen murdered approximately 26 women near Anchorage, Alaska. When Hansen’s family was away he would troll strip clubs, offer to pay women for sexual favors and then kidnap and rape them. What he did next horrified the entire country. Some of the women were driven out to Merrill Field, forced into his small plane and flown to a remote location. Hansen then stripped them of clothing, gave them a head start, and proceeded to track them, hunting them down and killing them. He was convicted in 1984 and is currently serving 461 years in Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska. Several books have been written about his story and The Frozen Ground, a movie starring Nicholas Cage as an Alaskan State Trooper and John Cusack as Robert Hansen is currently in production.
Alaska State Troopers do amazing work and although not every case is as sensationalized as there infamous murders, there is never a dull moment. Watch this week to see what happens when In Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley, Trooper Joseph Hess is called in to investigate an alarming discovery: campers have found remains that appear to be human toes and hands. Tune into this week’s episode of Alaska State Troopers: Campground Crazies Sunday November 18 at 10 PM et/pt.