The deaths of a Wasilla man and woman are being investigated as a double homicide, according to Alaska State Troopers. Crystal Denardi, 30, and Ben Gross, 43, were found in a burning home early Sunday.


Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said an autopsy concluded both people died of gunshot wounds.


The Alaska Bureau of Investigation (ABI) is investigating. ABI Deputy Commander Lt. Chris Thompson said the fire was ignited in an effort to cover up the murders.


Shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday, Palmer troopers received a report someone had been shot. Thompson said the call was made from a third person on the property, who had also suffered a gunshot wound. Thompson said the male was taken to a local hospital, where an online dispatch said they were treated for their injuries and later released.


When emergency responders arrived at the scene they found Denardi and Gross dead inside a burning garage, Thompson said. The house on the property, located at 7350 W. Cole Road, had burned during a fire in February. Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said the cause of the winter fire is undetermined.


The garage wasn’t a total loss, Thompson explained, although he said it does create additional challenges for investigating the crime scene.


“It’s a difficult case,” he said. “It’s a double homicide case, they’re all difficult. But with this one, the added dimension of the fire and the destruction of evidence as a result of that kind of adds to that. But we’ve got really skilled, highly trained investigators that are on it.”


Both Peters and Thompson declined to comment on the relationship of the three people involved. However, Thompson said they knew one another.


Denardi’s brother, Randy Denardi, spoke to KTVA and said “that it’s hard to believe anyone could harm her.” Born and raised in Alaska, she graduated colony high school and went on to study forensic science at the University of Alaska Anchorage, he said.


“She was very sweet, loved her family and dogs,” Randy Denardi said. “She’s such a beautiful soul.”


No arrests had been made as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.


Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call ABI at 907-352-5401 or Crime Stoppers at 907-745-3333.


KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard contributed to this report.


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