ANCHORAGE - State troopers in the Southeast Alaska community of Kake are investigating the murder of a 13-year-old girl.
Troopers say Mackenzie Howard was found dead in the arctic entryway of the Memorial Presbyterian Church. Investigators believe that's also where the murder took place.
The girl's body was found Tuesday night, just before midnight. Investigators said the family had contacted local authorities and begun searching before a community member (whom troopers declined to identify) discovered the body.
Investigators from Juneau and Anchorage responded. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is overseeing the case.
“We do not believe it was a very long period of time that she was deceased before she was found,” said Lieutenant Rex Leath with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. “When I say not a very long period of time, we're talking a matter of less than a couple of hours.”
Troopers are interviewing people in Kake, but their investigation has expanded due to a large influx of people in the community due to a memorial service that was held Tuesday.
“One of the challenges we have in a community like this, when we do have an event such as that memorial, where individuals come in from an outside community and visit and then leave, we're still trying to identify individuals that may have been present in Kake during the time that the victim passed away,” Leath said.
“It is difficult sometimes for us to find out where individuals came from, and where they went back to, but we are dynamically working on that and trying to find out where people went after they left Kake,” he added.
Troopers said they're waiting for autopsy results, which should be completed within the next two days, before deciding exactly how Mackenzie was killed.