Wash. man charged with murdering, stealing from Ketchikan doctor
A Washington man is accused of murdering a Ketchikan doctor at his home earlier this year, after local police say he transferred large sums of cash from the victim’s bank accounts and tried to send three shipping containers of goods from the home Outside.
Jordan Joplin, 32, was indicted Friday by a Ketchikan grand jury on additional charges of first-degree and second-degree murder in the March death of Dr. Eric Garcia, the Ketchikan district attorney’s office said in a statement. Joplin has already faced first-degree theft charges since April linked to the items taken from Garcia’s home.
Joplin had asked that Ketchikan police make a welfare check on Garcia at his Summit Terrace home on March 27, according to a criminal complaint written by Sgt. Robert L. Cheatam. Garcia was found dead inside, although police declined to say how he had been killed.
At the time of the welfare check Joplin had Garcia’s truck, in addition to keys for it and the home. Police also discovered signs that a computer, as well as numerous other goods, were no longer at the residence.
“Robert Jackson, a close friend of Dr. Garcia’s and the owner of a local real estate company has informed JPD that Dr. Garcia possessed, in his home, a collection of gold and coins estimated to be valued at approximately $500,000,” Cheatam wrote. “He stated that he had personally carried the gold into Dr. Garcia’s home and locked them in a closed under a set of stairs at Dr. Garcia’s request. It was observed by officers that the gold and coins were no longer in the residence.”
Other items, including Garcia’s wallet and cellphone, expensive bottles of spirit alcohol and a collection of 20 to 30 watches each worth roughly $2,000 to $8,000, were also missing from the home. The residence’s alarm system was disabled, and its control box was missing.
When Joplin spoke with police, he said that he had last seen Garcia alive on March 16 during a visit to Ketchikan, then departed on March 17. Cheatam said he didn’t mention having shipped any goods out of Ketchikan.
Investigators found a receipt in Garcia’s truck for Joplin shipping three containers, described as containing more than 4,400 pounds of “used household goods and personal affects,” with the company AML via Lynden Transport to an address in Maple Valley, Wash. That led police to check surveillance footage at AML.
“This footage shows Mr. Joplin using Dr. Garcia’s truck (the one that he was observed possessing and the one in which the receipt was located) to make four trips to the shipping location,” Cheatam wrote. “Dr. Garcia was not in the truck with Mr. Joplin.”
After obtaining a search warrant for the containers, Port of Seattle police found some of the watches and coins from Garcia’s home, “high-value distilled spirits,” a desktop monitor, two laptop computers and a tablet among other items.
An examination of Garcia’s bank accounts showed that by March 30, nearly $37,000 in funds had been transferred from them to accounts belonging to Joplin and a woman identified as Kristin Cowles-Nelson. No criminal charges against Cowles-Nelson were listed in Alaska court records Friday afternoon.
Josh Dossett, Ketchikan’s deputy police chief, said no charges against Cowles-Nelson were immediately pending. He referred further questions to the district attorney’s office.
Joplin’s bail was initially set at $200,000 after Cheatam asked for “considerable bail” in the case, describing him as a flight risk.
According to the district attorney’s office, Joplin is scheduled to be arraigned in Ketchikan Superior Court on Monday.