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Hunting Ground: North Pole's Serial Murders

She was just what he was looking for. Young, pretty, and alone. Hunter tried not to stare. This was high-stakes poker. Staring would be a tell.

Welcome to Crime Raven; true crimes, real-life stories from law enforcement, and issues crime fighters face. This blog highlights crimes researched by retired Detective Sergeant Mark Rein, using publicly available information, court records, and personal recollections. Content may be graphic, disturbing, or violent. Listener discretion is advised. Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

Geography

Mark: Before we tell this story, I wanna describe the location in Alaska for those who are unfamiliar. These crimes occurred in what Alaskans call the interior. We're talking about right in the middle of the mainland, 300 plus miles north of the south-central coast, where Anchorage is located, and 400 miles south of the north slope oil fields.

Picture a triangle with the city of Fairbanks at the center. The top point of the triangle faces north. There are three highways that lead out of Fairbank. In the triangle example, the north point would be the direction of the Dalton highway, also known as the hall road that leads to the north slope oil fields.

Back to our triangle. The left corner pointing Southwest would be the Parks highway, which is the road to south central, Alaska past Denali national park to Anchorage and then did the Kenai peninsula.

The right corner of our triangle is the main focus of the story. From Fairbanks headed Southeast is the Richardson highway. 20 minutes southeast is the town of north pole 15 minutes past that is Eilson Air force base. 10 minutes past Eilson is the tiny wide spot in the road called Salcha. Past Salcha, Johnson road branches off the Richardson highway and arcs to the Northeast encircling the backside of Eilson air force base.



Hunter's Story

Marcy: They called Hunter to their hotel room. He obliged because they had traveled a great distance just to speak with him. Hunter was polite like that, but he wasn't gonna take the indulgence as far as giving them what they wanted. He didn't feel the need to make their job easier and he was definitely gonna send them home empty handed.

The most important thing was he got to know what they knew. Maybe it would help him sharpen his skills. The main guy seemed nice on the phone. A Sergeant, like him. Hunter knocked on the hotel room door. Two men greeted him. The Sergeant was older and seemed straightforward and affable. The other guy, younger, definitely not the one in charge, was reserved and seemed judgemental. Both men gave him compulsory smiles that didn't reach their eyes. Hunter tried to give them the same in return. The room was actually two adjacent units. They had maps and pictures on all the walls. Some Hunter recognized. Some of the map locations meant something. The pictures on the walls were the same. Some meant nothing. Some meant everything. Hunter tried not to stare. This was high stakes poker. Staring would be a tell.

The three men sat around a small table, two leaning forward. Hunter, arms crossed, lean back. The salesmen started their pitch slowly. Small talk first. How did Hunter like Texas? Did he like it better than Alaska? What did he miss? What about the heat? Hunter gave them short answers. His nervous edge kept him from getting too cozy. He tried to answer even the easy questions with non-answers. After a while, they started to focus on Alaska. Not down to business yet. Just some background. When did he arrive? Where did he live? What did he like to do? Then the journey into the past. Hunter recognized the danger and kept his bearings. Giving only the most superficial answers. Among the salesman's questions, Hunter's mind drifted between Alaska and Texas. He was in Texas now. Alaska seemed like a distant memory. In some ways the two were so different. In the important ways they were the same.

Mark: He thought back to a recent successful trip. Hunter driven for a few hours to a pre scouted game trail, just rural enough to not be crowded, but populated enough to be productive. That day turned out to be lucky. A girl was right where he needed her to be. He passed without slowing. She was young enough, pretty enough. He turned off and waited a few minutes. Then he re-happened by, He pulled over and she ran up. "Can I get a ride?" He didn't even remember where she wanted to go. It was the Texas heat. It was like Alaska only for the opposite reason. They were desperate to climb into the trap to get away from the brutal hot. You could die out there. The girl happily climbed into the trap. She chit chatted until he pulled off. She hadn't been scared until then, but of course then was too late.

Marcy: The older guy pulled Hunter out of his reverie by leaning forward and saying, "we wanna tell you about some of the things that we know." "Okay," Hunter said, recognizing that they were getting to the good part. The younger guy flipped a picture of a girl across the table. Spinning, the photo, came to rest in front of him. He knew the face immediately. He felted her gaze on him. It was The Mama. Her eyes took him back to Alaska like it was yesterday.

Mark: Hunter first saw the mama outside a small cabin in the neighborhood off Badger road. It was bright, sunshiney and summer. She was young and pretty. The sunlight filtering down through the Birch trees cast her in the perfect light. She was alone, walking across the yard, her feet bare. She must live there. He decided right then that she was his. Hunter circled the area according to his plan. The girl was gone when he parked within sight of the house. He waited there for a while. It was good. Only a couple of cars passed. A sleeping neighborhood on a weekday. The area had several smaller houses that were on large wooded lots. Perfect. Privacy was his most important accomplice. If a cop or somebody happened to stumble across him, he would've said he had a friend who lived in the area, but he was lost. That was a rule. His route had to be near something plausible. In this case, if he was contacted, he'd say, ah, my friend lives on Clydesdale road, but I'm headed to, or from there.

Marcy: The older guy raised his voice causing hunter to focus. "You went to her house on August 29th in 79. She was alone. Did you know her before?" Hunter said nothing, tried to look confused, shook his head slowly.

Mark: The truth was he hadn't known anything about her. So he watched it was a weekday and there's no car. So she was probably home alone. That first day, when he didn't see her again, he drove away and checked other game trails, but Hunter's mind kept returning to the girl off Badger road. The setup seemed perfect. She seemed perfect. Hunter made the house off Badger part of his regular patrol. He caught sight of her twice more before the big day. He was patient. This was risky. But fortune favors the bold.

When he saw her on August 29th, he was committed. He caught her on the way the mailbox. No one else was around. He pulled across the dirt road with his window open. He flashed a smile and said, "hi ma'am, I was hoping you could tell me where..." The girl smiled, veering toward him. "Hang on. I can't hear you," she said. Hunter jumped out as she got close and showed her the pistol. She froze emitting an involuntary whimper. " Get in. Do what I say and I won't hurt you." He pushed her down and through the car, following her in. She tried to continue out the passenger door and screamed as he pulled her back, slamming her head against the dash, and then forcing her down against the seat. She tensed as the car began to move. Simultaneously holding the gun in his left hand while steering, his right hand gripped her hair. He was strong and torqued her head around until she was kneeling in the passenger footwear, her face pressed against the seat. "Bitch, if you don't stop moving, I'll shoot you."

Marcy: The older of the two men interrupted again. Hunter had tuned him out as he was reliving taking the girl. What was his asshole's name again? McCoy. McCain. Who gives a shit? The older guy was saying, "we know you took her to the gravel pit on Moose Creek.

Mark: Hunter's mind snapped right back. The drive to this kill spot was still 10 minutes. He was distracted with excitement and anticipation and caught himself repeating the rehearsed lines. "If you cooperate, I'll let you go. If you don't do what I say, I'll kill you." The girl was sobbing. She pleaded with him, "please. I have a baby. I have to go back." he smiled to himself. That's why she's the Mama. He thought, that's okay. The kid's better off without her anyway.

Marcy: The older guy was saying, "we know you did things to her. You choked her. The only answer we really need is, why? Hunter heard the question. Just shook his head. Even if he was inclined to answer, he couldn't tell them the truth. His mind transported him back.

Mark: He was pulling the mama out. She was small. No wonder he hadn't thought of her as a woman. She already had a kid. Thinking of the kid, made him angry. This brought out the words in his fantasy, his ritual he'd been dreaming of. He made her kneel on the gravel. They were shielded between the car and the dense bushes lining the gravel pit. The momma sobbed and shook as

hunter stood above her. She was weak. The kid was better off without her. The thought peaked his anger. Hunter moved in suddenly, wrapped both hands around her throat. He screamed at her, his tirade reaching a crescendo as he watched her face turned purple. Her mouth parted somewhere between gasp and scream. The momma died with his hands wrapped around her pretty little throat. Tears still streaming across her discolored face. The once beseaching eyes, now vacant, staring up at him. He watched as life left her. It was the moment he'd been waiting for. He collapsed on her, savoring with all his senses.

After a few minutes, Hunter stood up. He grabbed her by the arms and pulled her into the bushes, just off the gravel. He stood above her, holding the pistol. The result was less impressive than he imagined.

Marcy: The older man asked again. "What we need to know is why? Why did you shoot her in the face?" With that question, both men stared at Hunter intently. A long pause, begging to be filled. Hunter felt the pull. But said nothing. He merely shook his head and shrugged.

Mark: After that kill, it had been quiet. The paper said the momma was missing. She was only 19. She was married. She was a trooper's daughter. Now that was interesting. A law man. Well, he couldn't help his daughter.

Marcy: That thought brought him back to the present. The older man, the younger one. He wondered how personal this was for them. The next picture they flicked onto the table was the little one.

Mark: He'd found the little one on the game trail in his safe zone. She wasn't far from where he'd caught the mama almost a year earlier. He'd been patient, watching, sometimes taking pictures, but never going for the kill. When he saw the little one, his heart leapt. It was time again. And she was the one. Hunter took his time stalking. This would be risky. The trail was just off one of the area's biggest roads. There weren't many buildings that faced the roadway, but there were always cars coming and going, unexpectedly popping out from cross streets.

The other problem was, she wasn't always alone. He had seen her with other people, maybe a sister, maybe a brother. He had rules to keep him safe. One of those rules was never act when the trap was compromised. He almost violated that rule with the little one. On the first try he found the little one riding her bicycle alone on the game trail one afternoon. Hunter pulled across the street ahead of her and popped the hood of his car. A few minutes later, the little one pedaled up. He was actually blocking the point where the game trail crossed the side street so she had to slow, ride around. Hunter looked up, "oh, sorry. My car died." The little one smiled and said, "that's okay," as she moved to pass. Hunter asked her, "do you live around here?" The little one stopped, put her feet down, stood straddling her bike. Hunter was about to grab her when the boy, pedaling furiously, approaching fast, came into view.

The little one said, "yes, we live on..." Hunter didn't hear what street she named. He had seconds to make a decision. The rule won out and Hunter focused back on the girl. Sensing his distraction, the little one looked back down the game trail over her shoulder, "oh, that's my brother." Hunter made like he was fiddling with something under the hood as the boy arrived. He closed the hood and said, "I think we should be good now." With a wave Hunter drove away. The close contact had done nothing but stoke Hunter's interest in the little one, but he was proud of himself for being smart. The trap had been compromised, but quitters never win.

Two days later, he saw her again on the same game trail. This time, it was later in the afternoon and she was headed in the opposite direction. He passed her turning off a side street to set up down range. Hunter found a point where the bushes encroached on the game trail and he crouched in those bushes until she arrived. This time, everything went as planned. The little one rode up. Hunter jumped out, grabbed off her mount. He came prepared with a towel, which he shoved in her mouth. She barely got off of sound as he trapped her head under his left arm. He gripped the bicycle with his right and drug both off the trail. On his left side, the little one flailed ineffectually. She was easier to control than he'd anticipated. He dropped the bike without breaking stride and forced her into the car. Hunter gave the same threats he had last time, but the girl was scared beyond reason. Her eyes flashed like a desperate animal in a trap. He forced her down into the seat and sped away, nearly colliding with the car in cross traffic.

By the time they arrived at this kill spot, the little one had exhausted herself. She lay limp, face down, head on the passenger seat crying. She had asked him to let her go several times. He told her he would. Hunter went to the special spot he had selected for the little one. It was in the woods along Moose Creek. He felt at home there, and in the height of summer, the brush was dense. He drove back for several minutes on a single lane, gravel path. He parked the car at a turn where he could see anyone else approaching and pulled the little one out. As he started saying the things he needed to say, she cried again. She looked confused and pleaded over the words. Her hysteria lit a flame inside him. Her weakness. Her vulnerability brought on the rage. Hunter gripped the little one's throat with both hands, forcing her onto her back. He pushed himself up over her. She put up almost no struggle as she changed from living to dead. Hunter continued to say the things he wanted to say, the incantations of his fantasies, and he cursed her for her weakness.

Once Hunter was finished with his kill, he put the little one in the trunk. He drove her to the resting place. A clearing surrounded by black spruce and muskeg. He laid the little one on her back. This time, he took out a preloaded shotgun. He liked the result.

Marcy: "Hey," the younger guy broke into Hunter's jog down memory lane, "pay attention. A witness saw you and your car driving like a bat outta hell from the neighborhood. The girl's brother picked you out. He recognized your car. What we really wanna know is why? Why did you shoot her in the face with your shotgun?"

Hunter's mind was in turmoil. His trap had been compromise. Stupid. Outwardly, his face betrayed nothing. He simply shook his head. No. And remained silent.

Mark: In the days after he took the little one, Hunter learned about her through the media. She was 11. She had a big family. They wanted her back. A search. A vigil. Only he had the answers and he wasn't telling. He liked the game. He liked being Hunter.

Marcy: The next photo they put in front of Hunter was the Hitcher. The older guy said, "so with all the heat, you had to mix it up, didn't you?"

Mark: To Hunter, it seemed like the little one had brought a lot of attention for a long time. His patrols around the kill zone seemed more fraught. He had been stopped a couple times, but nothing came of it. The cops bought his story. After a while, the publicity died down. But then someone found the mama. He couldn't believe it had only taken weeks. Her discovery was a setback, timing-wise. Hunter had been preparing to strike again, but it became too hot on his usual game trails.

He decided to proceed carefully, maybe go further afield than he wanted. As the new year was about to dawn, Hunter decided to give himself a gift. He had been patient. Waiting till the heat died down from the discovery of the mama and the disappearance of the little one. Hunter decided that a kill in the winter would require a new tactic.

He began scouting the roads in the periphery of Fairbanks in his pickup truck. He spotted several possibles, but they were never alone. Then, he saw her in the dim winter light, the girl walking on the Parks highway. She had a nap sack, like she was headed somewhere. He drove past her a couple times, scoping the area. Aside from a couple of other cars that didn't stop, the road was isolated. When Hunter pulled up to her, she was cold, almost desperate to climb into the trap. The hitcher asked, "are you headed south?" Hunter, "yeah." Hitcher, "I'm trying to go to Anchorage." Hunter, "I'm not going all the way, but I'll drop you." "Okay. Cool." Hunter was out of his kill zone, but he had a plan. As they drove, the girl was eager to break the ice. She needed to go the 300 miles south to Anchorage because her father was in the hospital. She was worried he might die. Hearing about her close relationship with her father made Hunter angry. By the time he pulled off the road, they were away from Fairbanks and he was dying to shut her up. It was a turnout that led down to a gravel pit, but he saw no one around. So he parked just off the highway. When the Hitcher questioned the stop, Hunter turned towards her, hit her with a solid right jab. She was dazed. Hunter leaned across her. She started to fight back. He pulled the release, the seat collapsed flat. Hunter wrapped his hands around the hitcher's neck, slid across the console and straddle her in the seat. With the Hitcher beneath him and her arms pinned by his knees, Hunter said the words he needed to say. He gripped her throat, harder as she tried to scream,-. He took his time, winding himself up, his rageful words a torrent spilling out. When the time was right, Hunter flattened himself on top of her, pinning the Hitcher down by the throat. Her face seemed to turn black by the dashboard lights, her eyes gleaned brightly until they didn't.

Hunter finished the drive with the Hitcher lying next to him. It took an hour to get back to the kill zone and his pre-selected spot not far from the little one. Once there, he pulled her out, placed her on her back. Hunter retrieved the shotgun and fired a blast obliterating the hitcher's face.

Marcy: The younger guy had gone through this one. Hunter had to admit it. They pretty much had it exactly right. Like they said, they knew who, and they knew how they just couldn't prove it. They threw a picture of the fish that jumped into the boat in front of him. The younger one said, "this one was your fuck up."

Mark: For as much publicity as there was for the mama and the little one, Hunter was surprised that there was almost complete silence after the Hitcher. She had been so easy it made Hunter rethink how he would do things. It was much less risky to pick up a girl looking for a ride than to grab her off the street.

He come to this conclusion just as the next girl came into view on the highway. Later after it was all done, he thought of this girl as the fish that jumped into the boat. There are days when it's better to be lucky than good. There are days when the sun shines on a dog's ass when the clouds part, even in wintertime Alaska, and you can sense an order to the world that usually seems so lacking. That day in early March 1981, was like that. He was driving. There she was. Pretty. Young. Ripe for the plucking. And she wanted a ride. She got right into the trap like she was the gingerbread trusting him, the Fox. What happened then was, after all, his nature.

The girl ran up to his truck and asked if she could get a ride to her friend's house. Just up the highway. Hunter smiled at the pretty girl and said, "I'll take you." Hunter's kill spot was very close to where the girls said her friend lived. So there had been no conflict until the very end when he pulled on to his favorite gravel road. Then he pulled his pistol on the fish that jumped into the boat and told her he'd kill her. She cried, but complied. Hunter performed the ritual and just like the others. She lay there helpless and gave up her life to him.

Each time for him was a release, a catharsis, a banishing of demons. The fish that jumped into the boat had been such an unexpected surprise that Hunter hadn't even picked out a final resting place. As he drove her lifeless body up Johnson road, he could feel the others calling out to him from their wooded cripts. When he felt confident no one was around, he picked a spot, pulled the girl from the truck out onto the ground and destroyed her face with a shotgun blast.

Hunter learned from this that as good as the fish that jumped into the boat had been, so simple, everything with home court advantage, she almost was a poison pill. He was shocked to see the media coverage that her body had been discovered just three days later. Worse, a news report said that a witness had seen the girl getting into the pickup truck before she went missing. Hunter cursed himself for his impulsivity. He violated his own rule by not making sure the trap wasn't compromised. On the other hand, the witness obviously hadn't gotten a good look because he wasn't in jail. Hunter vowed to be more diligent in the future,

Marcy: Almost as an answer to Hunter's memory, the younger one, who had just finished going through the case facts, leaned forward, staring into Hunter's eyes and said, "and you know what? You killing her, where you put her, tied it all together for us." The older one slapped the last photo down. It was the parting gift.

Mark: Hunter had been ordered to leave Alaska. He didn't want to go. He felt like he was just warming up. On the other hand, his activities had been noticed. A few weeks after the discovery of the fish had jumped into the boat, the Hitcher had also turned up. People and the media were asking if a serial killer existed in Fairbanks.

Hunter didn't like the publicity, but if he was being ordered to leave Alaska, he wanted one last harrah. He knew that the cops were watching his sacred ground. Well, he would send them a message. So in the height of the Alaskan summer, Hunter again ventured away from his kill zone. He saw the parting gift near where he picked up the Hitcher.

She was just what he was looking for. Young, pretty and alone. Hunter checked the area before approaching, but once it was clear, he pulled over. He didn't even remember where she wanted to go. It didn't matter, did it? The parting gift, it went exactly like the Hitcher. He took her to the same gravel pit turn out off the highway. Only this time, being summer, he had to drive her into the bushes out of side of the road. Parting gift was more suspicious, probably more ready to run away because it wasn't the middle of winter. She stopped fighting when he pulled the gun on her. He promised to let her go after he got what he wanted. He lied. Like the Hitcher, parting gift laid dead in the seat next to Hunter on the hour long drive back to the kill zone. He put her right in the middle of where the others were or had been.

Marcy: When the older one was finished talking about the parting gift, they looked at him expectantly. Hunter looked back. Well, now he knew what they knew. He was a little worried about some of the witnesses, but he felt pretty sure they couldn't prove anything.

Then the men attacked, tag-team fashion. It was like a speed round. They hit him with his history. His father beat the shit out of his mother. His father beat the shit out of him. His mother didn't protect him. His first child was fathered by another man when he was overseas.

On the heels of this barrage, the two men appealed to his humanity. They told him that they knew what he did, but they were trying to understand why. The families needed to know why. Reeling from the exposure. Hunter stood up, bid the men farwell and walked out.

Hunter thought he was in the clear. He found out the next day, how wrong he was. They pulled a dirty trick. The two men, came to his house and they brought friends. A full day of having his life picked apart. Hunter watched for 12 hours as they stole his guns, rifled through his papers, and brushed the lint out of his cars. After the intrusion, Hunter felt naked. They saw his photographs and newspaper clippings. And for the first time ever, the Hunter was the prey. He decided if he was caught, he wanted full credit. He wanted everyone to know what kind of man he was, just like his father, only better. They had given him a choice. Bake on death row in Texas, or freeze in America's Siberia.

Well, he knew a way to beat them.

Investigation

Marcy: It took time for authorities to understand the reality of what was happening to girls and young women of Southeast Fairbanks, beginning in the summer of 1979. Killings were not unusual. Missing people were not uncommon. The wilderness that encroaches on every Alaskan city regularly swallows people whole, some never to be heard from again. Some are hidden, the victims of homicide. Some fall prey to wildlife. More die of exposure in the intersection of vast open spaces and climate extremes.

The first three cases were considered serious, two missing and one murdered. But there was little to link the three, until the fourth case tied them together. In the case of 19 year old Glinda Sodemann, the momma, who went missing on August 29th, 1979, the focus was understandably on the usual suspect: the husband. The fact that the Sodemann baby was left unharmed in a crib at home, seemed to bolster that theory. Even when Glinda was found in October, 1979, fully clothed shot through the face, and in an advanced state of decomposition, the husband remained a suspect. There just wasn't enough evidence to determine one way or the other.

When 11-year-old Doris Oehring, the little one, went missing on June 13th, 1980. It was immediately taken seriously by police. Investigators suspected it was an abduction and rape, but again, there hadn't been enough to move forward. The bicycle was stashed in the bushes and yielded no prints. A resident saw an unfamiliar blue car speeding through the area, but no sighting of the girl and no way to identify the vehicle. Her older brother had seen Doris talking to a man the day before. He was able to contribute to a sketch and describe the blue car. But no link to the broader puzzle.

Initially the only thing tying the first two crimes together was Badger road, near the town of North Pole. However, Badger road is an 11 mile long corridor and home to many residents and cross streets. The idea that two serious crimes might happen there, spaced a year apart, is not necessarily alarming.

The third victim, Marlene Peters, the Hitcher went missing from Fairbanks January 31st, 1981, and had been reportedly headed toward Anchorage. The route to Anchorage traverses almost 350 miles of wilderness and is in the direction opposite the town of North Pole. The missing girl didn't initially appear to be linked to the North Pole disappearances from six months and a year and a half earlier. The event that focused the cases together like a laser, was the disappearance of the fourth victim on March 5th, 1981, Wendy Wilson, the fish that jumped into the boat, and the recovery of her body three days later. Wendy Wilson was found off Johnson road, south of Eilson air force based and Southeast of North Pole. And relatively close to where Glinda Sodemann was recovered. The two bodies were linked by geography and signature. Both women were strangled, their bodies fully clothed with a gunshot to the face postmortem. The fact that Wendy had been hitchhiking before her murder was the link to the missing Marlene Peters. Likewise, with the sudden widening of the investigative aperture, Doris Oehring's proximity to Glen Sodemann could no longer be a coincidence.

The new appreciation of the situation and theories that the same killer committed several crimes was further confirmed when Marlene Peters was located in May 1981, in the now familiar dump area off Johnson road, three months after Wendy Wilson was found.

Before the recovery of Wendy Wilson's body and the recognition that there might be a serial killer, the Alaska state troopers and the North Pole police department had begun to put out investigative feelers. They reached out only with pertinent facts to the Fairbank police, Air Force office of special investigations and Army criminal investigation division. The reasons for contact were twofold. First investigators wanted the other agencies to be aware of the crimes in case they caught a similar event. Second, the investigators were looking for those agencies to come forward if they had any information on a suspect that they thought might be worthy of evaluation.

After the discovery of Wendy Wilson's body, given the investigative implications, it was a different ballgame. Law enforcement formed a homicide task force that included all the local jurisdictions: state troopers, air force, army, and federal partners, including the FBI.

For the first time, the public was made aware. In addition to the investigative steps, police began some practical measures for detection and prevention. Groups of military and volunteers were formed to conduct overland searches for evidence and victims. A media campaign was undertaken to keep the public apprised of case facts, request tips and information about vehicles seen picking up hitchhikers and to warn about the dangers of accepting rides from strangers.

The publicity about the crimes brought a new challenge. Thousands of tips and leads flooded the various organizations, all of which were funneled to the unprepared task force. The investigators recognized that information about the killer was likely hidden in the reams of information they'd received. They couldn't begin to make progress without a way to sort and prioritize. They decided to send an investigator to the Atlanta child murders task force to learn about their tip handling process. The investigator came back with two things, a criminal profile from the FBI's fledgling behavioral sciences unit, and a tip organization system that could be adapted for use in their cases.

Among other things, the profile predicted that the suspect would be a young white male who lived alone and would be unable to maintain steady employment. The task force developed a crime database that would cross reference information and suspects. While the task force worked the tip sheets, in May 1981, another girl, 18 year old Lori King, the parting gift, went missing while hitchhiking around Fairbanks. Hunters discovered her body on September 2nd, that year in the Johnson road area, south of Eilson air force base. Lori was the fourth body to be recovered from that general area.

1981 turned into 1982 without further reports of missing girls. And as time went on, members of the task force began to theorize that their suspect had either moved, died, or been taken into custody. They started a fresh review of all cases, tips and suspects. From the comprehensive review, numerous names were sifted into the 'merits closer scrutiny' pile. The lead investigators focused on that group of men. One name that kept popping up was Thomas Richard Bunday. Bunday had one strike against him as the potential suspect. He didn't seem to fit the FBI profile very well. This was a big deal because the FBI's behavioral sciences unit was riding high on a series of profile successes. And there was growing confidence in the program.

Bunday was a Tech Sergeant with the Air Force. He lived in the town of Sacha, just south of Eilson air force base with his wife and two kids. His longtime employment and family seemed to exclude him from the profile prediction. Despite not matching the FBI profile, Bunday pinged the task force's new tips system on several points.

The task force had asked the military for names of members who had transferred out since the Lori King abduction. Bunday was on that list. He had transferred to Shepherd air force base in Texas. The air force office of special investigations had produced Bunday's name along with two others on a list of people who had repeated complaints about their behavior when working around female employees. Bunday was also on a list of more than 500 air force employees, owning cars similar to the ones reported by witnesses as being involved in the abductions. Bunday owned a .357 pistol and shotguns. Bunday was seeing the base psychologist for mental health issues and through air force office of special investigations the task force investigators learned that a murder similar to Alaska's cases had been committed near Shepherd air force base since Bunday's transfer.

The background workup on Bunday looked promising. He looked like the composite sketch of the man Doris Oehring's brother saw her talking to before her obduction. Bunday's friends and acquaintances described him as antisocial or a loner. Bunday had long term marital problems, and another man had fathered his oldest child while Bunday was stationed abroad. People familiar with Bunday's upbringing said that he had grown up with an abusive father who beat Bunday and his mother regularly.

As the team continued through its vetting of Bunday, a trooper investigator was sent to Texas to feel the situation out. During his trip, the trooper met with Bunday who denied any knowledge of the murders. When asked Bunday, who initially seemed cooperative, refused to give hair samples, refused to take a polygraph, and refused to allow a search of any of his property. The investigator gathered enough information about the Texas homicide of Cassandra Goodwin in November of 1982, to know it was similar. That the woman had been abducted, strangled, and shot. Still the Texas investigating agency had a different opinion about who committed that crime.

When the advance investigator returned from the lower 48, he was unsure if Bunday was their man. The next step was to send two investigators down for a more focused attempt. They sent trooper Chris Stockard, who was involved in developing the suspect database, and Sergeant Jim McCann, the task Force's lead investigator.

The troopers checked in with the Texas sheriffs and air force office of special investigations. Both organizations agreed to share information and assist with surveillance. The investigators set up in two rooms at a local hotel, and they decorated the rooms with props intended to convey that they were closing in on the end of an extensive investigative effort.

When they were done setting up, they contacted Bunday, who agreed to meet with them. Bunday came in as expected. And on the first day he sat and mainly listened to the troopers talk about the case. He was vague in his answers. One thing that stood out about that first day, he never denied doing the killings.

Bunday showed up for day two of the interview, right on time. The troopers planned to press him more during this session. It lasted for four hours. Bunday listened to them and cried at times. The investigators told him they knew he killed a woman in Texas, the way he had in Alaska. They suggested that he confess to the crimes so that he could go to prison in a state that didn't have the death penalty. At the end of the second interview, the troopers thought Bunday was close to confessing and he agreed to come back the next day. When Bunday arrived for day three, he dropped off a handwritten note and left. In the note, Bunday denied doing any of the crimes.


Murdered

Age

Missing/Murdered

Found

Glinda Sodemann

19

8/29/1979

10/1/1979

Doris Oehring

11

6/13/1980

Spring 1986

Marlene Peters

20

1/31/1981

5/14/1981

Wendy Wilson

16

3/5/1981

3/8/1981

Lori King

18

5/16/1981

9/2/1981

Cassandra Goodwin

22

11/1/1982

Unknown


On day four, the troopers had a surprise for Bunday. They arrived at Bunday's home with sheriff backup and executed search warrants. Bunday watched a lengthy process with officers combing through his house for evidence. He saw them take weapons and ammunition. He saw them seize his stack of newspaper clippings related to the murders. He saw them take hair and fiber samples from his car and his truck.

After the search warrant, Bunday called Sergeant McCann in his hotel room. Bunday was missing his car keys and wanted to know if the police had taken them. It turns out they had, by mistake. McCann told Bunday that he could come and get them. Bunday said he would come by the next day.

Bunday arrived at the hotel on day five to pick up the keys. Bunday didn't wanna sit in the hotel room again, so the troopers talked to him outside the room. During that discussion, Bunday confessed to killing the five Alaska victims. He also said that he put Doris Oehring's body in the woods off Johnson road, in the same general area as the others.

After confessing, Bunday left abruptly, and the investigators didn't have the jurisdictional authority to arrest him. So they watched him go. By day six, the troopers had communicated back to Alaska, arrest warrants were granted, and transferred to Texas. The surveillance teams went out to find Bunday. They followed his car, but only his wife was inside. That afternoon, the troopers received a phone call. Bunday had placed his wallet and trooper McCann's business card beneath a rock under a bridge. And then he'd driven his motorcycle out into the rain and straight into a truck at high speeds. The truck driver had tried to avoid the collision, but reported that Bunday appeared to drive into them purposefully. He died instantly.

In the follow up investigation, it was determined that the seized shotgun shells came from the same batch as those used to shoot Wendy Wilson and Lori King. Some of the hairs taken from Bunday's truck came from Wendy Wilson. After many searches, Doris Oehring's remains were finally identified in 1986.

Discussion

Mark: So to begin this discussion, let's talk a little bit about the town of North Pole. It's a suburb of Fairbanks. A lot of the air force members that serve at Eilson air force base live around North Pole, in subdivisions off of Badger road, which is 11 miles and loops to the east and then sweeps north towards Fairbanks. Badger road is busy, but most of the time seems rural. In fact, the appeal of North Pole is its rural feel while offering services, gas, fast food, a grocery store, and a couple of restaurants all available without having to make the 20 to 30 minute drive to the city. Marcy, let me ask you a couple questions. You grew up in North Pole. When did you move there? And why?

Marcy: I moved there with my family in 1984. My dad had worked on the Trans Alaska Pipeline in the seventies. Alaska was a prosperous place. And so we moved there in hopes of economic opportunity.

Mark: The oil economy is one of those classic draws and obviously the allure of wilderness and beauty. What was it like growing up there?

Marcy: Well, it didn't just feel rural. It was. The only fast food type place that we had when I moved there was Pizza Hut. And if I recall correctly, there was only one stoplight. I think I was in high school when we got McDonald's and it was a huge deal. When we went to Fairbanks, we referred to it as going to town.

The first house that we lived in was near the center of North Pole on a street with relatively close, packed little houses and across the street from the middle school. The year we moved there was the school's first year as a middle school. Before that had been a junior senior high combination. North Pole had finally grown big enough to get its own high school.

It was a fairly transient kind of community where people came and went. There was an air force base and then Fairbanks had an army base. So people were always coming and going with the military and people moved to Alaska like us. They left Alaska when it got to be too much or they moved to, or from a different part of the state based on school or work or family.

I was 11 when we moved to North Pole and I cared about 11 year old priorities. So my kid brain immediately started calculating the potential benefits of having close neighbors in a small town. See, before Alaska, we had lived out in the country where you can't really trick or treat on Halloween because everyone was really far away.

I was extremely excited to live with close neighbors. And so I started planning my Halloween strategy months early. When it finally came, it was 30 below zero. We could only trick or treat a few houses before we had to go home and warm up. It was devastating.

One thing about North Pole and the rest of interior Alaska is it's all about extremes. Brutal, cold winters, and hot dry summers.

We set cold weather records when I was in high school, something like 70 below zero, and they never canceled school for us in the winter, except for one time. And that was for ice fog. It gets so cold that all the vehicle exhaust and everything else in the air just freezes and hangs there. And so they closed school for one day because visibility was so bad they were worried kids would get run over, waiting for school buses.

In the summer, the sun stays up and you grow beautiful gardens and you're outside constantly. And you can get into the nineties. But the thing is nobody there has air conditioning. If you want AC you gotta go to the store or you gotta go to town to go to the movies.

Mark: You graduated from north pole high school.

Marcy: Yes. You had to live a mile away to be able to ride the school bus. And I was just a hair inside that mile. So I had to walk to school. And I cringe to admit it, but I often accepted rides to school from strangers because I was cold. I was also a teenager. So I often wasn't dressed appropriately for the extreme weather. Looking back, it was incredibly stupid, but the teenage mind can rationalize a lot of things.

Also one thing that was drilled into people pretty early in their Alaskan life that I remember is the sort of cultural norm that when people appeared to need help, you stopped to help. Whether that was people walking alone, people broke down on the side of the road. You stopped because it could be life or death. There were no cell phones. There was often a long way to civilization. And honestly, the distance didn't have to be that far when the weather was very, very cold. So people stopped for me and I was lucky. Stupid, but lucky.

Later in high school we moved out actually off Badger road, and I rode my bicycle everywhere. All my friends pretty much lived off Badger road. So I would ride to North Pole and all over the place.

Mark: You said one of your teachers was the mother of the little girl, Doris Oehring?

Marcy: Yes, my AP history teacher was Mrs. Oehring. She was well known and very active in the community even well after her retirement. And she just died in 2021.

Mark: You were actually in high school when Doris's remains were finally found.

Marcy: I don't really have a specific recollection of that happening, but I now know that they found her the same year that she would've graduated high school. I was aware that my history teacher had a little girl that had been kidnapped and murdered. And I had some awareness that a military man had done it. There were four siblings, I think, but Doris was the baby of the family. So I didn't know any of them. I do recall that later they named our high school auditorium after Doris.

Mark: With all this happening right in this, small population in this tiny community, was there residual concern about safety in the wake of these cases?

Marcy: No. Like I said, I was aware that Doris had been murdered, but I didn't know there were other murders. I didn't know the circumstances or really hear any concern that there should be extra caution. I rode my bike as a teen all over the place, all up and down Badger and mostly alone. I never gave it a second thought.

I feel like it was pretty carefree at the time. I recently asked my mom what she remembered about the murders. She thinks she really only recalled Doris's murder because I'd had Doris's mom as my teacher. She didn't know it was part of a serial killer case. She speculated that maybe enough people came and went and there were so many other tragedies happening that it kind of got pushed out of people's consciousness. I don't know, but I think it might have been some collective denial happening.

What was your experience moving to Alaska as a young adult?

Mark: Well, you know, this, I came there for college. Parents lived in North Pole because my dad was an engineer for the US air force. I was immediately smitten by the natural beauty, the biggest mountains in the country, glaciers, wildlife, hunting, fishing, just a beautiful, amazing place. Particularly in the summer. I spent 25 years there and that appreciation for how special the state is, has never waned. You and I rented a cabin in North Pole. I remember that period fondly. It was the last part of our lives before things got serious.

Adulting took cold. Of course we were poor, but I'm always nostalgic for that time. And I'm glad I was unaware of these crimes back then. You had to get Badger road from our neighborhood to go anywhere. And I think that knowledge of what had happened there, would've shaded how I felt about the area.

But I think if you live in Alaska long enough, more than a couple winters, you start to feel the toll of the dark, the cold, the geographic isolation. And that has an effect across the population. Substance abuse problems are common and out in the open. Growing up, I lived all over California, Washington, Southwest Asia, Ohio, Georgia. Alaska was the first time I ever saw someone snorting powder cocaine at a party. I mean, I had been around booze and weed, but never saw anything harder than those. Both the statistics and personal experience as a civilian, and as a cop, allow me to confirm that substance abuse is a big problem there. And I think climate and isolation are related.

Also related to substance abuse issues, Alaska has a disproportionately high level of serious violence. Bad things happen everywhere across the country. But statistically, and in my experience, Alaska distinguishes itself far beyond the cases I'll be talking about here.

And in my experience, Alaska distinguishes itself. Just the events that come to mind. one of my professor's daughters was kidnapped and murdered just down the hill from my college. For those listeners from the area that was Katie Stockholm. Her dad taught my law classes. I've mentioned Sophie Sergie in past episodes. Marcy and I worked with Kevin Lamb at UAF police. He was a cop who went to Fairbanks police and was murdered shortly after we left for Anchorage. Two of my colleagues were murdered on duty in Anchorage. One of whom was my mentor. And several more of my colleagues were shot.

Alaska as one of the highest rates of spousal homicide in the country. Often, they're followed by suicide. And I went to several of those. A medical examiner I know called them homa-sui's, which in Anchorage is also called the Spenard divorce.

Marcy: So let's talk about what generally is referred to as the Fairbank's serial murders. And as a side note, I have to say that while they are referred to nationally, as the Fairbanks serial murders, people in North Pole very much feel separate from Fairbanks. And I would argue that these are the North Pole serial murders. Not cuz I wanna claim them, but because Fairbanks and North Pole are not synonymous. Okay. Rant over. It seems like from the investigation, the killer got lucky early on because the crimes were not recognized as a series until they were almost complete.

Mark: If Doris Oehring, the second victim, had been found quickly, it would've been obvious that the two were related based on the signature.

Marcy: Can you define signature for me?

Mark: Yeah. It's when you have an aspect of a crime that's unique. It's set apart from other aspects by the decisions or predilections of the perpetrator. There's a good example of this on the well known movie Home Alone. In that movie, the bad guys who are residential burglars known as the wet bandits; they turn on water to flood houses they hit. This is unusual for a crime and it's unnecessary to complete that crime. It sets them apart from every other burglar. And that's a signature.

With Bunday his signature was the ritualistic postmortem shooting of the victim in the face.

Marcy: Do you agree that the Alaska sort of cultural norm of stopping to help people that I talked about earlier played a part in the killer, getting his victims?

Mark: Two of them were basically grabbed off the street and there's hitchhiking everywhere. But the others, I think partly is it's the Alaska way, trusted that they would be safe by relying on the goodwill of strangers and that was exceptional trust. I mean, Marlene Peters was looking for a ride on January 31st, the coldest time of the year to go with the stranger more than 300 miles across what is mostly frozen wilderness. It's very dangerous, very, probably deadly. If you got stranded away from a heat source. People do it still, but you're really rolling the dice. It can go the other way too. I know of two people who are killed in separate incidents by the hitchhiker they picked up.

Marcy: There's a whole lot of nothing on that trip between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It's not like if things are not going well, you can get off at the next truck, stop and get a different ride. There are no truck stops. Drivers playing carefully based on where there's gas. There's no interstate trucking. Heck there's not even flushy toilets for most of it.

So the lead investigator, in this case, Sergeant Jim McCann, he was kind of famous locally, and there was a saying, "McCann always gets his man,” like a TV hero. I went to high school with his daughter. Did you ever meet him?

Mark: Not really. He was a couple cop generations ahead of mine. But you're right. He's a legend. The first time I saw him was right after Sophie Sergie's murder. We had secured the scene. I was posted downstairs at the front door of the dorm she was found in. The dorm was locked down. Residents were being snatched and segregated for interviews. A guy with a mustache unassuming kind of guy walks up and I'm thinking, well, here's one of the university big wigs,. He doesn't need to be here. He certainly didn't look like lived there. So I said, "sir, only residents are allowed to enter." He said, " I'm trooper Jim McCann."" I said, oh, well, I guess you're going in." I opened the door and stifled the urge to say, "and trooper McCann always gets his man." I didn't recognize him on site, but I knew what they said about him.

As I researched this case, I was glad to see, and I think McCann would be the first to admit complicated cases are solved through teamwork. Rarely the work of one man. Not to take anything away from his success, but I have the feeling that he was a team player. In fact, Sophie Sergio was the one case on his ledger that was unsolved when he retired. I bet he was just happy when the case went down in the end. Those investigators who solved it know they stood on his shoulders.

Marcy: You think that a task force approach is the way to go?

Mark: Absolutely. I've been a part of a successful homicide task force. Done right, with the right people. There's a synergy that can't be beat. There are a lot of historic cases where different departments or units guarded information for their own interests.

This is the worst thing that can happen. Information security is important, but jealously guarding case facts between law enforcement agencies is a recipe for disaster. In this case, the FBI's profile was off, but their data handling system, the OSI tips about Bunday, all of the investigators combing through tips was a recipe for success. Particularly in Fairbanks. There are a lot of local cops who know each other, and they could share information comfortably. Just through our work at the university police department, we knew a whole bunch of people who left there and had prominent careers with troopers, Fairbanks police and North Pole.

Marcy: In the end, do you think that they were combing through dozens of suspects or do you think Bunday stood out?

Mark: I think when they went back through the active suspects, I'm sure they had numerous people, but when all the tips are evaluated, despite the divergence from the profile Bundy distinguished himself. And I'm sure there were several others that also did. When things like he's one of the three worst offenders on Eilson air force base in terms of harassing female employees; match up with Doris Oehring's brother picks him out as the suspicious guy and then confirms the car; the local acquaintances say is a weirdo loner; when the advance trooper goes down and feels him out, and he's uncooperative when most everybody else is cooperative. One of the things you get as a police officer is the ability to read people based on unusual responses. After you've stopped a hundred, 200 cars, you see the people generally act in a certain way within a certain range. Some are cooperative; some are hostile. But the ones that act in a really unusual manner, get your attention. One of my colleagues told me he pays particular attention to somebody who is too. As in T O O. If somebody is too helpful, gives way too much information, gives too many detailed answers. There's something going on there. It's unusual, and it's way different than other people that you've talked to a hundred, 200 times. It was Bunday's right not to cooperate, but most people, those detectives talked to were probably jumping through their asses to prove they didn't do it. Bunday's no; maybe the way he said no, probably pinged their investigator radar. The other compelling thing about Bunday as a suspect, there was a murder with the same signature near Shepherd air force base, Bunday's new home.

Marcy: Talk about the bad profile info. Single, lives alone, hard time holding a job, probably a civilian.

Mark: Clearly, the profile missed the boat. There was a lot of confidence in the profile, but that program was fairly new at the time. Profiles are based on the study of behavior. And a lot has been learned since the early eighties.

At the same time, I was part of a missing person case where FBI gave a profile, and it was laughably unhelpful. It turned out to be, yeah, you could interpret it as true when the case was solved, but it wasn't the profile as fault that it was unhelpful. We just didn't have enough information to put in to get something meaningful out.

In this case, something led them to believe that the suspect, who later turned out to be Bunday, would be an unemployed loser. They were half right. But seriously, Bunday obviously was having huge problems in his work and private life. It occurs to me that without the military structure supporting him if he had been working in the private sector, he would've been unemployed.

I mean, this guy was picked at top three out of thousands on Eilson air force base in terms of sexually harassing female employees. And again, this was in the eighties. As far as the living alone part, who knows what his marriage was like? It was at the very least unusual; setting aside the serial killer part, the infidelity and instability surely would've led to divorce in most other marriages.

Marcy: What did you think of the investigator's interview process?

Mark: First of all, a smart suspect never would've talked to them. I wrote it like I'm pretty sure it was. Bunday wanted to see what they had on him. He also wanted to hear people talk about the crimes. Think about it. If your hobby is gardening, there are a ton of people you can talk to about gardening. If you murder women, you're pretty much alone.

As far as the interview process the investigators described, it was textbook Reid technique. In a nutshell, you convince the suspect, you have amassed information sufficient to close the case. This is why they took the time to go through everything with him. And then, you try and elicit statements that indicate guilt or knowledge through the use of themes.

Marcy: Give examples of themes.

Mark: Themes are meant to get the suspect talking to you. Or themes are meant to give the suspect an out an explainable out. Sometimes they really go for these. Common themes are you didn't mean to cause her death or you were too scared to say it was self-defense before, but we can talk about that now, or you didn't do it, but you saw what happened didn't you, or you love your mama. Your mama taught you right from wrong. Do what your mama taught you and tell us the truth. There's a ton of themes. Some play on the suspect's sense of honor, or their religious convictions, theme selection is based on whatever the interviewer thinks will be important or effective to elicit incriminating statements.

I don't know all the themes the troopers used here, but they did use this one. We know you did it. We have the evidence, we just talked about it. We just need to know why. And if you confess to us, you'll serve your time in Alaska where there's no death penalty and the climate is more comfortable. That sounds funny when you put it like that, but they were trying to appeal to his, well, I don't want to die in the heat and in the electric chair in Texas.

Marcy: It seems incredible that after confessing and they got him on tape that they let Bunday leave.

Mark: I've thought about this. Okay, so the stated reason was that they had no arrest powers in Texas, which is true. The counter to that, at least in my experience, is that they're working with air force OSI and the Sheriff's department. Surely there's a legal way to detain in Texas. And I know, if there isn't, Bunday was in the air force, I know they could hold him. If you listened to the Christian Martin episode, that's exactly what the Army C I D did with him. They scooped him up and, in Martin's dramatic complaint, put him in a barracks in the middle of nowhere with no food. So I think there had to be ways of detaining Bunday, but I think what the troopers may have been concerned about was the admissibility of the confession.

if they had detained him. You see, these were all technically non-custodial interviews. Bunday came into the hotel voluntarily and was told he was free to go. What this avoids is the necessity of repeatedly reading him the Miranda warning. They weren't at a police department or a jail. Sometimes if you are in those places, confessions or statements are ruled to be custodial by definition. So you have to read Miranda in those situations. But they weren't in custodial situation, they were in a civilian hotel, and he was free to leave. So if Bundy's attorney later had challenged a confession in an evidentiary hearing, the fact that Bunday was allowed to leave proves it was non-custodial, and that confession would be admissible. And I think that may be what the troopers, by allowing him to leave, were trying to preserve.

Marcy: Do you think that keeping Bunday's keys was an intentional ploy?

Mark: Yes. I mean, the official answer, according to McCann, and McCann always gets his man was no. But my answer is yes. Here's what I know. The troopers had just served a search warrant, allowed Bunday to watch. They knew he was reeling. He's trying to figure out what is it they could have found? Why are they taking stuff, and what can they get from the stuff they've taken? Now the troopers needed to get him back in and try and get him to say things as he's reeling. He was crying before when they finished interviewing him. They knew he was about to topple. Now they had basically put their boot on his neck, searched his stuff, and lo and behold; he has to come in because they took his keys. And by God, he gave it all up. If it wasn't a ploy, it was divine intervention. But my call was that those investigators made their own luck.

Marcy: Why did you call him Hunter in the narrative?

Mark: I think a lot of these guys compartmentalize what they do. In the profile that was made for the then unknown subject that turned out to be Kirby Anthony from the episode murder in Midtown, the profiler saw a person who could be a monster one minute, then function fairly normally. People noted his weirdness, but it wasn't the kind of crazy that you can see from two blocks away. Anthony and Bunday both had traumatic backgrounds. Both clearly had hidden compartmentalized sides that they allowed only a select few to see.

So when I looked at Bunday, I noted the careful way he stalked his victims and the ritual he followed for the kill. He thought of himself as a skilled hunter.

Marcy: The details of the narrative are not explicit for sexual assault. Do you think that Bunday raped his victims?

Mark: Only a couple of victims were recovered in a condition where sexual assault could be definitively stated. This is particularly true because we're talking about early eighties technology. Looking at Wendy Wilson, who is recovered after only three days, and at a time of year when the air temperatures are still cold, I think it's pretty clear that she wasn't subjected to what you consider a typical sexual assault. Also, based on what Sergeant Jim McCann said on the subject, he didn't think Bunday was raping his victims. On the other hand, there was a psychologist who chimed in at one point and said he didn't think these crimes were sexually motivated. Well, I think that's bullshit. Bunday selected a very specific category of victim for a reason. Part of it may have been about blaming a weak mother for not protecting him from abuse or dominating a woman in some kind of competition with his father. But there's definitely a sexual component to these crimes. Also, the bodies may not have exhibited the traditional evidence of rape, but there is the possibility he did something else overt, you know, masturbating during or whatever. I say this from a perspective I got from courses and cases for my time in sexual assault and in vice. Believe me; there’s a whole lot going on out there that goes beyond what most people characterize as normal sexual behavior.

Marcy: Do you wanna mention the psychologist?

Mark: Yeah. It kind of adds to what I said about the dark side of Alaska that I mentioned earlier. Bunday was a patient of the head of the Eilson air force based psychology department, a captain named Clarence Williams. Captain Williams, and a henchman Lawrence Hoover, took Williams' wife out hunting. During the hunt, the henchman shot Mrs. Williams in the face, killing her. They brought her to the base clinic, claiming she had accidentally shot herself. It was later determined to be a plot to cash in on Mrs. Williams' insurance policy. The crime was solved because other air force people came forward saying that Williams and Hoover had talked about killing Mrs. Williams. In the planning phase, there was discussion that they could try to lay the blame on the then unknown killer of Glinda Sodemann.

Marcy: It seems unfair that Bunday died without going to trial. And it was definitely a horrifying delay in finding Doris Oehring's body. How do you think that left investigators feeling about the case?

Mark: I'm sure the investigators would like to have had more time to get Bunday to Alaska to take him on field trips. It took two years of planned searches before Doris Oehring's remains were found. She was in the right area, but that area was measured in square miles.

It occurred to me that Bundy had been in Asia and other posts. Was Glinda Sodemann really his first victim? These are follow-up details that the investigators would've liked to pursue talking to Bunday. On the other hand, most investigators I know are pragmatic. Bunday would've tried to use information as a negotiating chip. Dealing with his demands, in light of what he'd done, would be frustrating.

I think when the dust settled, the investigators probably were satisfied to have gotten to the conclusion they did. The alternative isn't knowing everything. The alternative is forever suspecting. Never knowing. Bundy gave the investigators enough to close the cases and then sentence himself to death for his crimes. We have to be satisfied with that. There can be no happy ending.

Exit

Mark: I hope in this episode, I've provided insight and perspectives as to what police officers and investigators do and why. If you have a question about police procedures or have an interesting case you'd like me to cover, please email us at crimeravenpodcast@gmail.com.

Marcy: Thank you for reading. If you haven't already, please subscribe to Crime Raven so you don't miss an episode. Please recommend us to your friends too. You can email us at crimeravenpodcast@gmail.com and check our website at crimeraven.com. Crime Raven, hosted by Mark Rein and Marcy Rein, is written and directed by Mark Rein and edited and produced by Marcy Rein, and it's a 3 Little Birds, LLC production.

Sources

Barefield, R. (Dec 30, 2018). The North Pole murders. https://robinbarefield76.medium.com/the-north-pole-murders-2df18db4c864

Brennan, T. (2001). Murder at 40 Below: https://amzn.to/3zszSWv

Daily Sitka Sentinel. (August 19, 1986). Skull identified as that of girl.

Investigation Discovery. (January 2, 2013). Alaska Ice Cold Killers: North Pole Slay Ride. Season 1, Episode 5.

Mitchell, K. (March 17, 1983). Bunday a suspect in murder cases. Daily Leader: Frederick, Oklahoma.

Vanapalli, V. (December 24, 2021). Is Thomas Bunday dead or alive? How did he die? https://thecinemaholic.com/is-thomas-bunday-dead-or-alive-how-did-he-die/

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