Anchorage man charged in Shuyak Island homicide
An Anchorage man serving time for unrelated crimes now faces charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Steven Ridenour, 44, was formally charged on Tuesday in connection with the death of 56-year-old Steven McCaulley, who was found dead at a wilderness lodge on Shuyak Island in November. McCaulley died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, but had eight other gunshot wounds to the neck, head and torso, and was shot from the front and back, court records show.
Confessing to a Shooting
The manager of the Port William Wilderness Lodge, where McCaulley worked and where his body was found, called troopers on Nov. 17 to conduct a welfare check, which led to the discovery of McCaulley’s body. He said he had been contacted by Ridenour’s brother, Don Ridenour, who said his brother had called him to tell him he’d shot and killed McCaulley. The manager stated Steven Ridenour was also an employee at the lodge.
An investigator with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation spoke with another of Steven Ridenour’s brothers, Ronald Ridenour. Ronald Ridenour said Steven Ridenour had called him on Nov. 16, telling him a man “came at him with a chainsaw and [he] had to shoot him,” according to court records. Ronald Ridenour noted that Steven Ridenour contacted other family members with the same story, and was asking for money.
A pilot delivering mail to the lodge told troopers he picked Ridenour up from the island on Nov. 12 and flew him to Kodiak. Knowing that Steven Ridenour had left the island and had spoken with the lodge manager to pick up his paychecks in Anchorage, Kodiak troopers contacted ABI, the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) and the Special Crimes Investigation Unit (SCIU) in Anchorage.
A day after McCaulley’s body was found on Shuyak Island, the Anchorage Police Department arrested Steven Ridenour for three outstanding misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for failing to report to jail for a previous conviction. That meant Steven Ridenour would not be able to post bail.
Troopers did not immediately charge Steven Ridenour for McCaulley’s death, but continued to investigate and build their case. Investigators working on the homicide case interviewed Steven Ridenour shortly after his arrest.
“McCaulley was cutting a tree at the lodge with a chainsaw. For no understandable reason, McCaulley came at [Steven Ridenour] with the chainsaw,” Steven Ridenour told troopers during his interview. “Ridenour said he fell down near a shotgun, and then shot McCaulley several times with the shotgun loaded with slugs.”
Steven Ridenour purported that McCaulley dropped the chainsaw and, despite being shot several times, “got back up and headed to the lodge,” according to court records. Steven Ridenour continued to shoot McCaulley with an AR rifle until it was out of ammunition. He claimed he continued shooting because he was putting McCaulley “out of his misery” because there was no medical care on the island.
In an affidavit, troopers said the location of McCaulley’s body and the shells from the rifle indicated Steven Ridenour had shot McCaulley “from an elevated location where McCaulley had no ability to seek cover or protection.” Troopers also noted that Steven Ridenour had sent messages to a woman in Florida indicating “anger and frustration” with McCaulley, and even “references to wanting to do physical harm to McCaulley.”
Steven Ridenour was to be released from jail on Jan. 13, a factor included in troopers’ request for a warrant for his arrest.
“AST believes if Steven Ridenour [is] released he will be a flight risk and may attempt to flee Alaska because he has been in contact with out of state family members and requested money from them to leave the state,” troopers wrote.
Steven Ridenour was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and is being held in Anchorage on a $250,000 bail. His next scheduled court appearance is on Jan. 22 in Kodiak.