I.S.P.Y: Cops Made Dumb Mistakes

Marcia Hilley had strong opinions about most things. Except the cops. She was ambivalent about the cops. Her father had been a policeman, so she felt a certain affinity for the profession. She had gotten to know some of them. They were “funny,” she said. They’d had good times together. But that didn’t keep her from thinking there were “screw ups from the very beginning.”

Ketchikan: State Office Building, top center (credit Ruth Ann Schmidt)

Hilley could readily point to some “dumb, dumb mistakes.” Like taking Larry Demmert to get valium during the first grand jury.

Both she and Mackie felt, moreover, that the initial investigation in Craig smacked of the “big city boys coming to town thinking they could do it like in a big city.” And the troopers couldn’t do it like that, as far as Mackie was concerned, because everybody in Craig knew who they were and what was going on.

More serious, troopers had left the Investor skiff on the dock. They had left evidence unprotected.

Aerial view, Craig, Alaska

Hilley wasn’t sure what to think of the drug allegations. She heard talk around town. People wondered how Mark Coulthurst got such a big boat without dealing drugs. She reasoned he could have gotten it with hard work.

But, she thought, maybe Mark Coulthurst did get his boat with drug money. “There’s a lot of drugs around here,” she reasoned, “and a lot of things could shock a lot of people.” Despite Hilley’s animosity toward Weidner, it seemed that he had managed to influence at least some of her assessments.

But not all of them. When Weidner accused the cops of failing to take notes or, worse yet, destroying them, Hilley felt otherwise. Based on her father’s experience, she suspected the cops didn’t always want to have notes. If they did, they’d have to turn them over to the defense.

Investor Hull, Fish Egg Island (courtesy Alaska State Archives)

More than that, she sensed that the cops were just too busy doing their jobs. “That’s what a lot of people said,” Hilley noted. “Hey, wait a minute, these people were finding, or trying to find, dead little kids and pregnant women. It was a horrible experience for anyone who was working there.”

Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.


Order “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press.

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