In our last installment, we discussed witness Joe Weiss, who’d spoken to an Investor skiff man at the Craig Cold Storage dock the day BEFORE the fire. Weiss, a California graduate student at the time, agreed to come north, to Friday Harbor, Washington, and confirm his tentative identification of John Peel as that skiff driver. He was accompanied by Alaska State Troopers Daryl Galyan and Glenn Flothe.
Although Flothe and Galyan knew that Peel was probably headed for the harbor, they took a meandering route to the Friday Harbor waterfront. They were diverted by the pleasure boats and fishing vessels that crowded one side of the moorage. As they neared the harbor, though, they found it more deserted. Two small skiffs bobbed next to a float pier. Sitting in one of them was John Peel. John Peel and the guy in the Moose Head cap, whom they’d seen at the donut shop earlier that morning.
As the trio turned and headed toward that skiff, Weiss, who had been trailing the troopers, found himself in the lead. He took advantage of his freedom. Independent of any urging by Flothe and Galyan, Weiss walked within twenty feet of the skiff. He engaged their occupants in conversation, and asked if they were going fishing.
Only one guy responded, the guy who was running the boat. “I wish we were going fishing,” John Peel yelled back. “We’re putting the new float in.”
Of the guys on the skiff, Weiss liked the guy in the front of the boat the best. The guy with the Moose Head cap. The one, Flothe thought, who was not John Peel. Then Joe Weiss said something peculiar. He said, “But things about him don’t seem right. He seems too happy.”
Weiss added that the two guys in the skiff looked a lot alike. They looked so similar, he said, that they looked like brothers. It could be either of them. So there it was. An ambiguous identification that fell short of the home run troopers wanted.
But Joe Weiss seemed distracted. Taken with the idea that the guy in the Moose Head cap may have been the killer, he kept returning to one thought. In his mind, he imagined that the guy who had killed the Investor crew would never be happy again. The guy in the Moose Head baseball cap was happy. That bothered him.
He didn’t get much time to dwell on it. Before long, he was on a plane out of Friday Harbor. And then the troopers were thanking him for his help and saying good-bye at his flight back to California. They wouldn’t be needing him for awhile. They had a different plan, one intended to address a significant dilemma.
Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”
Copyright Leland E. Hale (2019). All rights reserved.