Left Hand, Right Hand Not on Same Page

Michael Tario was undecided about whether to fight John Peel’s extradition to Alaska. He said he needed additional details. “I need to have a chance to review the sufficiency of the warrant,” Tario said. Peel’s attorney also said he could not explain why authorities had focused on his client. Mary Anne Henry and Jim Stogsdill would make those explanations. They were the left hand and the right hand of the investigation.

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Michael Tario (l) and John Peel in Whatcom County Court (courtesy Bellingham Herald)

Stogsdill told reporters he was “100 percent convinced” that John Peel was the perpetrator of the Investor murders. He said he had a “three-legged” case against John Peel, which included physical evidence, circumstantial evidence and witnesses. He called the physical evidence “substantial” and the circumstantial evidence “extensive.” John Peel’s emergence as a prime suspect was not a result of “any one thing,” Stogsdill insisted. “We started putting people’s names down. It was a match.”

Mary Anne Henry, meanwhile, told news reporters five witnesses were ready to testify to seeing John Peel in a skiff coming from the Coulthurst’s fishing boat. Four of those witnesses talked with a man they identified as Peel from photographs. Another witness, she added, would say that Peel was seen getting into the skiff while yet another witness would identify Peel as the man who brought two 2.5 gallon jugs of gasoline the day before the fire.

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Mary Anne Henry in Whatcom County Court (courtesy A Current Affair)

Once again, however, it appeared that communications between the cops and the prosecutors weren’t all they should have been. The left hand didn’t seem to know what the right hand was doing. After learning of Henry’s comments to reporters, Jim Stogsdill admitted that investigators didn’t have a witness to Peel buying two 2.5 gallon jugs of gasoline the day before the fire. “The gasoline’s not true,” Stogsdill confided. “That’s not part of this case.”

Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale.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 (2019). All rights reserved.


Order “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press about Alaska’s Worst Unsolved Mass Murder.

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