5 suspects named, 2 at large in Anchorage murder
The man killed in an Anchorage murder being investigated by Alaska State Troopers was shot in the presence of several people, according to charging documents in a case with three people now arrested and two others still at large.
An Alaska State Troopers dispatch Wednesday identified the five people involved in the death of 36-year-old Weston Gladney, all of whom were first charged anonymously last week as “Jane Doe” and “John Doe” defendants. In addition to two suspects currently held -- 27-year-old Helen Them and 56-year-old Brian Scheele – 42-year-old Joseph Ahuna was arrested at about 6 p.m. Tuesday in Sand Lake in Anchorage.
All three of them, as well as at-large Anchorage residents Paulette "Pili" Kane, 34, and Chalice Kesselring, 28, are charged with first-degree murder in the case.
“This investigation is a result of a collaborative effort between the Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers,” troopers wrote. “APD’s partnership in this case was invaluable.”
On Dec. 6, troopers raided Scheele’s home on South Heather Meadows Loop with support from Anchorage police, saying only that Them was arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant. Last week, five unnamed “Jane Does” and “John Does” were initially charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, in a Nov. 27 Anchorage death.
A criminal complaint against Them, written by the Alaska Bureau of Investigations’ Steve Kevan, said Gladney’s “severely burned” remains were found lying on the ground, about a third of a mile along a trail from the Knik River Public Use Area off Sullivan Avenue in the Butte.
“During the removal of the body, the state fire marshal’s office assisted in the collection of evidence, at which time there was a distinct odor of a possible accelerant that had been used,” Kevan wrote. “The body was unrecognizable and had to be identified by a single thumb print at autopsy.”
An autopsy determined that Gladney had been shot through the chest in a homicide. Investigators soon learned that Gladney had recently been released from the Spring Creek Correctional Center; DOC officials said Wednesday that Gladney had been held on . During his time there, he had called Them – who Kevan said was “the reported mother of Gladney’s child” – and said he “was going to see her when he got out on [Nov. 3] and surprise her.”
Troopers saw a Facebook profile for Them on the morning of Dec. 5, but it was taken down later that day. A relative of hers also told troopers Them had fallen out of touch.
“[The relative] reported that Them was afraid of Gladney because he recently found out that he was NOT the father of her child who is now 1 year old,” Kevan wrote. “[The relative] went on to state that she believes that Them had something to do with the murder of Gladney.”
Troopers spoke with Them, accompanied by an anonymous person, at the McDonald’s restaurant near the Totem Theater on Dec. 5. Them showed troopers text messages between her and Gladney setting up a Nov. 27 meeting at Scheele’s home; she told troopers Gladney left the home in a car and she hadn’t seen him since.
On Dec. 6 investigators spoke with Scheele, who told them he had witnessed Gladney’s murder. According to Kevan, he said he and Them picked up Gladney and brought them to the Heather Meadows home – where Kane, Ahuna, Kesselring and a man he called “Jeff” were also present.
“Scheele stated that as soon as Gladney walked in through the garage door, ‘Jeff’ shot him with a handgun,” Kevan wrote. “Gladney fell to the floor and then ‘Jeff’ walked up to him and shot him again. Scheele stated that there wasn’t hardly any blood.”
Shortly after the shooting, according to Scheele, Kane said Gladney had raped her.
About 20 minutes later, Scheele told troopers, Ahuna took Gladney’s body from the home in a white minivan as Scheele removed shell casings from the garage and threw them away in a dumpster at a nearby Carrs Safeway grocery store. Scheele met up with Ahuna the next day to remove some trash from the van, which he said was the last time he saw Gladney’s body.
Later on Dec. 6, troopers and APD raised the Heather Meadows home, finding three ammunition rounds of various calibers – as well as “suspected blood stains on the carpet attached to the steps that lead into the garage.”
“This is where Scheele reported Gladney was shot and fell to the floor,” Kevan wrote.
Troopers detained and questioned a number of transient people who didn’t know anything about the murder, also seizing 10 marijuana plants and some methamphetamine.
When troopers spoke with the unidentified man who had accompanied Them to her first interview, he said he was at the home on the night of the shooting, when Gladney arrived with Scheele and Them.
“Scheele and Gladney went into the garage,” Kevan wrote. “[The witness] said Them did not go into the garage, however [he] did hear a ‘pop’ then another ‘pop.’ [He] advised that the people in the garage told him it wasn’t supposed to go down the way it did.”
A man who was in the home near the garage told troopers he heard two gunshots, but Ahuna stepped out of the garage and told people to “chill” because Gladney had been shot in the leg.
Both witnesses said Kane, Kesselring, Ahuna, Ahuna’s girlfriend and an unknown male – described by one witness as Samoan – were all in the garage at the time.
Troopers also spoke with Kesselring, whom Kevan described as “extremely evasive” under questioning; she said she had nothing to do with what happened, and “did not want to get Kane into trouble.”
Troopers again spoke with Them at her request on Dec. 11 at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, where she said Kesselring had reportedly made threats against Gladney.
“Them reports [that] she did not know this was going to happen to Gladney, but did suspect he was going to get ‘ruffed up,’” Kevan wrote. “Them did not tell Gladney that Kane was waiting for him at the Heather Meadows residence.”
Anyone who sees Kane or Kesselring, or has information on their whereabouts, is asked to call 911 or a local trooper post.
Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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