Murder in Alaska: Crazy in the ’80’s

The crazy ’80’s found Alaskan’s reeling from the crimes in their midst. Apart from Robert Hansen — who owed a bakery — and Richard Bunday — who was an Air Force enlisted man — the remainder were the ne’re-do-wells we’ve been taught to expect usually commit these crimes. The insane ones. The drifters. The loners. The ones that are impossible to stop. Crazy.

They were:

Charles Meach, mental patient. On the night of May 3, 1982, while on work-release from the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Meach shot four teens in Anchorage’s Russian Jack Springs Park. He killed the two girls and two boys after he was discovered burglarizing a tent belonging to the boys. Crazy.

Meach was in psychiatric care after being found innocent by reason of insanity in the 1972 beating death of a grocery store clerk. He was sentenced to serve 396 years for the park killings.

Louis Hastings, unemployed computer programmer. On March 1, 1983, a dozen or so residents of McCarthy — a remote mining town nestled in the Wrangell Mountains near Glenallen — were gathered at the landing strip, awaiting the weekly mail flight. Hastings stalked and shot six of them dead, while wounding two others. Investigators learned that the murders were part of Hasting’s plot to blow up the trans-Alaska pipeline and restore Alaska to its pre-oil boom state. Crazy.

Main Street, McCarthy, Alaska

Hastings pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 634 years in prison.

Louis Hastings (Denver Post)

Michael Silka, drifter. Silka showed up in the village of Manley Hot Springs in May of 1984. He killed seven Manley-area residents, then threw their bodies into the swollen Tanana River. He also killed an Alaska State Trooper during a subsequent gun battle that ultimately resulted in Silka’s death.

Historic Manley Roadhouse, Manley Hot Springs, Alaska

Silka was additionally suspected of killing a man in Fairbanks, whose body was never found. Authorities found no motive for the killings.

Michael Silka

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2018). All rights reserved.


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