Mother of murder victim reacts to new developments in case
Snowy days can be difficult for Michelle Woodford. Her son, Frank Woodford, loved spending time outside and snowmachining.
“He would be going crazy right now,” Michelle Woodford said at a restaurant near Willow as snow fell outside. “Day like this, it’s hard.”
On Saturday, 19-year-old Damien Peterson was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge for the death of her 16-year-old son.
Frank Woodford was shot and killed inside a Wasilla home on June 27 of last year. During their initial investigation, Alaska State Troopers said there was no conclusive evidence of foul play. However, they reopened the investigation after 16-year-old David Grunwald was murdered.
“I had this feeling, you know, something was wrong. And it was,” Michelle Woodford said in reference to the investigation. “They closed the case too soon.”
The night Frank Woodford was killed, he was in a bedroom with Peterson and Grunwald murder suspect Austin Barrett, according to a trooper incident report. After he was shot in the chest, Woodford told medics in front of troopers that he did not shoot himself, although could not identify who did. Peterson, however, told investigators that Woodford had shot himself.
“My son said he did not shoot himself,” Michelle Woodford said. “Why didn’t they check everybody’s hand? Why didn’t they get a list of people that took off from the house?”
She said her son was in the custody of the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) and was a few days away from returning home permanently to be with his grandparents.
“The OCS worker said he was in a safe place,” Michelle Woodford said. “He was a runaway.”
In a criminal complained filed at the Palmer courthouse, troopers said a number of witnesses helped investigators charge Peterson with murder. One witness said Peterson admitted to accidentally shooting Woodford.
“I know that they didn’t accidentally do it. I know that in my heart. They did something to my boy,” said Michelle Woodford.
She expressed frustration with Peterson.
“Why did you have to do that to my son?” she asked. “Were you not happy? Were you jealous of him?”
Peterson is being held in Palmer on a $500,000 bail, plus a third-party custodian requirement. Michelle Woodford said she is looking forward to the case making progress.
“I’m really happy that this is finally all getting taken care of,” she said.
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