Local News

Troopers: Interviews and physical evidence led to Kake homicide suspect

Numerous interviews and physical evidence led state troopers to arrest the 14-year-old Kake boy they believe is responsible for the death of 13-year-old Mackenzie Howard. That’s according to the Deputy Commander of the Major Crimes Section for the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. Matt Lichtenstein spoke with him Saturday night and filed this report:
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Lt. Rex Leath is the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s supervisor on the case. He said they arrested the teenage suspect around eleven Saturday morning after ten days of collecting evidence and interviews:

“We conducted quite a few interviews in the community and also at the scene of the crime, found some key pieces of evidence that had different kinds of biological evidence on them and also when we communicated with the community, and identified who we thought could be one of our suspects, we went and contacted that suspect and did end up serving some search warrants at the suspect’s residence and acquired more pieces of evidence.”

Investigators provided that evidence to the State Crime Laboratory. Leath said the lab’s work and additional information from interviews ultimately led troopers to take the boy into custody.

The arrest comes ten days after a community member found 13-year-old Mackenzie Howard’s body in an entryway to Kake Memorial Presbyterian Church late at night on February 5th.

Leath said the suspect was compliant and troopers were able to interview him. Leath would not say whether the boy admitted to the crime but the bureau is confident he acted alone, “I can tell you that based on the information we collected as well as the interview, we have what we believe is confirmation that we have the right suspect.”

He said the bureau did not believe anyone else was involved.

Authorities have not made public the actual cause of Mackenzie Howard’s death, but they have treated the case as a homicide from the beginning. The state medical examiner later confirmed it was homicide after an autopsy. State troopers from Juneau and Ketchikan as well as investigators and crime scene technicians from Anchorage and other communities went to Kake to work on the case.

Because the suspect is a minor, Leath said he could not release his name or the specific charges that are pending against him:

“All I can really say is we have a homicide and we have one person we believe is responsible for that in our custody now. And so in the adult world we would assume if someone did that, whether it was accidentally or intentionally, there would be corresponding crimes we would list there. With a juvenile, while the same elements are there with a crime, it’s a little different because a juvenile goes before a judge and is considered for delinquency, not necessarily the crime that an adult would have been charged with. So, it’s a little different. Same seriousness, same consideration as far as the state goes, but we can’t really put a label on it per se.”

Leath said it would be up to the Division of Juvenile Justice to decide whether the charges against the suspect are made public. The boy was being transported to a Juvenile Justice holding facility and was expected to go before a judge in Ketchikan over the weekend.

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