Ketchikan man arrested after confessing to dockside murder
Ketchikan police say a man suspected of murdering another man in the Southeast Alaska community is in custody, after he turned himself in for the crime Friday.
Police conducted a welfare check at about 11:20 a.m. Friday on 55-year-old Richard Branda, according to a statement Friday, following a call reported that he appeared to be passed out.
Ketchikan’s deputy police chief, Josh Dossett, said Saturday that officers found Branda dead in an area near Berth 4 at the local cruise-ship docks.
“He was kind of curled up against some containers in a parking area that’s not used this time of year,” Dossett said. “When [officers] found the victim, they realized he was deceased; there were obvious signs of trauma.”
Dossett said Branda had been killed overnight Thursday, but exactly when and how he died wasn’t yet clear. His next of kin have been notified, and his body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy to determine his time and cause of death.
Officers spent the day processing the scene and beginning a homicide investigation, Dossett said. Just before 5 p.m. Friday, however, police received a call from 42-year-old Joshua K. Bliss saying he had killed Branda. Bliss was taken into custody at an Austin Street apartment complex, then questioned at the police department.
“He basically walked the investigating officers through the scene and the case, and had some knowledge of the case that hadn’t been released,” Dossett said.
Dossett declined to discuss what Bliss said about Branda’s death in detail pending further investigation, as officers served a search warrant on Bliss’ apartment Saturday.
“Basically, they did know each other; they didn’t have any known animosity toward each other,” Dossett said. “The suspect gave us a motive, but we’re still trying to track down witnesses and people he talked to before we release that.”
Bliss was held without bail at the state jail in Ketchikan, on charges of first-degree murder and evidence tampering.