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Weeks After Kodiak Coast Guard Double Homicide, Few Answers

FBI Keeping Quiet, While Residents Speculate

May 17, 2012|By Ted Land | Channel 2 News
  • The FBI recently searched this house in the Bells Flats area, where James and Nancy Wells live. Neither has been named a suspect or person of interest.
KTUU/Ted Land

KODIAK, Alaska — It's been more than a month since a gunman opened fire inside a Coast Guard communications station in Kodiak, killing two men.

A lot of people hoped there'd be some answers by now as to who is responsible, or at least whether or not that person is still roaming the island.

But the FBI, which is the lead agency investigating the crime, is saying very little.

Immediately following the double homicide, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that she had directed the full resources of her department to support the investigation into the shooting.

Clearly an investigation is taking place, but how active it is and how productive it's been remains a mystery.

In the community of Bells Flats, about 12 miles from downtown Kodiak, there's a possible connection to last month's double homicide.

The FBI a few weeks ago searched a home on Pavloff Circle, where James and Nancy Wells live.

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James is a civilian rigger who worked alongside Richard Belisle and Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins, the two men killed in the shooting.

He won't say much, as we learned on a recent evening.

“It's our policy not to talk to anybody,” Wells shouted back to a reporter’s questions.

The FBI has not named Wells a suspect or even a person of interest, but they do want to know more about where his cars were the day of the crime.

Investigators recently circulated pictures of a blue Honda SUV and a white Dodge pickup truck, which they say may have been in the area of the communications station the day of the shooting.

The FBI wants to talk to anyone who may have seen the vehicles that day.

The cars apparently belong to Wells. Both were parked in his driveway on a recent evening.

Steve Dryden lives across the street.

“I really like Jim, he's a nice guy and I don't know, I’m keeping my mind open, waiting to see what I see,” he said while checking his mailbox.

It's difficult to gauge the level of public alarm in Kodiak five weeks after the double homicide. There have been no arrests and the killer could still be roaming the island.

“I'm not worried, about myself,” said Dryden.

“You know it's a big wild place and things happen,” said Andrew Field, a Kodiak resident.

Others are less content.

“I think just a sense of uneasiness, people are unsure of what's going on,” said Jasmine Oliver, a Kodiak resident who knows the Belisle family.

“It's a small town, so there's a rumor mill, it's hard to get away from it,” said Merissa Koller.

No one here seems to know exactly what's going on -- even the Coast Guard says it doesn't even know what's really happening with the investigation.

“We know what you know,” a spokesperson told Channel 2.

“I think the sense that we get is folks are very anxious to see some resolution to this crime and to see the person or persons responsible brought to justice,” said Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai.

The Kodiak Police Department has little to no involvement in the investigation, beyond just reporting anything suspicious. Everything's being handled by the FBI. Kamai is the one left to deal with questions and concerns from neighbors, and there's not much he can tell them.

“We're waiting patiently and have every confidence in the federal authorities that they'll be able to conduct their investigation, and in due time I think we'll have the answers to all our questions,” he said.

During the weeks since the shootings, the FBI has been attempting to gather more information. Two weeks ago the bureau asked volunteers to help search the road leading to the communications station, but turned up nothing.

Investigators now want to speak with anyone who sold, traded, or transferred several models of .44-caliber revolver any time during the past year.

Email Ted Land
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