Footprints lead Fairbanks police to fatal stabbing suspect
Some old-fashioned police work led Fairbanks investigators to arrest a murder suspect overnight Tuesday, following what he described as an escalating fight.
Sheldon Charles Wolfe, 26, was charged with second-degree murder and evidence tampering in the death of 40-year-old Armagan Idil, police spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch said in a statement.
Idil was initially reported just after 7 p.m. Tuesday to be near the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital’s physical therapy building, on the 100 block of College Road, “on the ground in the parking lot bleeding.” Officers found Idil with a stab wound to the left side of his neck; medics took him to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Detectives and officers were able to isolate a footprint in the fresh snow leaving the scene,” McCulloch wrote. “The footprint was tracked towards the Bentley Mall, West along College Road, South on Illinois Street, across the Cushman Street bridge, through a parking lot onto 5th Avenue and into the parking lot of the Alaska Motor Inn.”
McCulloch said the footprints, which led to investigators to Wolfe at the Alaska Motor Inn, were a huge break in the crime.
“In this case it was one of the biggest factors in tracking down who allegedly did it so quickly,” McCulloch said.
Officers arrested Wolfe, who had a bruise on his cheek and was wearing shoes similar to those in the footprints. McCulloch said he told police that he and a friend were walking along the Old Steese Highway when Idil struck his friend with a “cylindrical weapon.”
“Wolfe got between the two and Idil then struck Wolfe on the left side of the face,” McCulloch wrote. “Wolfe then produced a butterfly-style knife and stabbed Idil somewhere in the left shoulder area. He reported that he threw the knife in the Tanana River. This was corroborated by another individual.”
Investigators haven’t yet determined what provoked the initial confrontation described by Wolfe, or whether Wolfe or Idil were impaired at the time.
“From what [Wolfe] said, he and his friend were walking down the street, heard someone yelling at them,” McCulloch said. “And then Idil had come up behind them and hit his friend in the back of the head.”
Idil’s next of kin have been notified.
Anyone with information on the death is asked to contact FPD Detective Avery Thompson at 907-450-6549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.