Following a forensic examination and further investigation, Homer Police have ruled the death of Mark Matthews, 61, a homicide. Matthews was found dead about 10:15 p.m. July 28 by two people walking on the Poopdeck Trail, a path connecting Pioneer Avenue to Hazel Avenue and Poopdeck Street in downtown Homer.
Police also doubled the reward to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Matthews’ killer.
Citing an ongoing investigation, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl released only a few new details about the case. From the start, police had treated Matthews’ death as suspicious.
Robl would not say why the Alaska State Medical Examiner’s autopsy and the police investigation have now determined the death to be homicide or how Matthews died.
In a press release on Tuesday, police saId “additional items of evidence are currently being examined by state crime lab personnel.”
“Because of the nature of this investigation, I need to withhold a lot of information,” Robl had said earlier.
Robl said police believe Matthews’ death is an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public.
Matthew’s younger sister, Laurie, visiting Homer this week, appealed to anyone with knowledge of her brother’s homicide to come forward.
“I just hope to do whatever I can to bring Mark to the forefront and target somebody’s heart strings so they do the right thing by reporting what they know,” she said.
Police have asked that anyone with information related to the homicide contact them at 235-3150 or call Crime Stoppers at 800-478-4258. People also can report tips online at www.peninsulacrimestoppers.com.
Matthews had moved to Homer last fall and had a job, Robl said. He was living in an apartment and was not homeless. According to his obituary, Matthews had worked as a carpenter in Alaska and Washington. He lived around Alaska in Ketchikan, Anchorage, Anchor Point and most recently Homer.
Laurie, who did not give her last name out of concerns for her safety, said her brother was a good person.
“He loved animals. He loved his friends. He loved his family,” she said. “Anybody who knew him loved him. He was so funny, really caring.”
Laurie said she hoped police will catch her brother’s killer.
“This has all been extremely heartbreaking,” she said. “I want the people responsible brought to justice.”
She also praised the work of Homer Police.
“The detectives have been very kind, very thorough,” she said. “That in itself has been comforting, just knowing they have their hearts in it and their expertise. I know they’ll do everything they can possibly do.”
If proven to be murder, Matthews would be only the third murder within city limits in the 28 years Robl has worked with the Homer Police, he said. The most recent homicide was in August 2008, when Charles “Yukon Charlie” Young shot and killed Michael Swanger at a drinking party near Bishop’s Beach. Young was charged with murder, but that charge was dropped when the district attorney said he could not disprove Young’s claim of self defense.
The most recent Homer murders were in June 1989 when Odie Walters shot and killed Neil Miller at the home of Walters’ estranged wife and in October 1988 when Eugene Tagala shot and killed Daniel Stailey at a Homer bar.
Mephibosheth “Moshe” Wilkinson was killed by Leonard Wallace on East Skyline Drive in August 2004. Last summer on July 7, 2012, Demian Sagerser was shot and killed at his Stariski Creek home north of Anchor Point. Both shootings were outside Homer city limits and investigated by Alaska State Troopers.
Demarqus Green, 21, of Anchorage, has been charged with murder in Sagerser’s death, but is still awaiting trial. Green’s girlfriend and alleged accomplice, Nancy Modeste, pleaded guilty in February to attempted evidence tampering for burning clothing and other evidence related to the shooting.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.