Acting on a tip from a man charged in his wife's slaying, Anchorage detectives found a body Friday in the Matanuska Valley they linked to the case, police and a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Police say Angela Dixiano disappeared in April 2010 after threatening to expose a fraud scheme in which her husband, William "Mike" Dixiano, allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the developmentally disabled heir of millionaire East Coast physicists, according to charges against Mike Dixiano.
Police charged Dixiano, 63, in January 2011 with theft, fraud and forgery, and a grand jury indicted him for his wife's murder and evidence tampering a month later.
Dixiano told police where to find the body and signed a plea agreement under which he will admit to second-degree murder and first-degree theft, said state prosecutor Clint Campion.
"It's the proverbial needle in the haystack. The information was critical to finding the remains," Campion said. "(It) did come from Mr. Dixiano, and the fact that he's pleading guilty, as part of a plea agreement, a lot of these events are wrapped together."
According to a charging document filed in court last year, Dixiano opened a joint bank account with a man named Sam Lee in 2006. Over the next several years, Dixiano siphoned money from Lee's $3 million inheritance -- built with the wealth of his award-winning physicist parents -- and bought a fleet of Chevrolet Corvettes, the charges say. Dixiano also convinced Lee to give him power of attorney and a house in South Anchorage, while Lee lived in a modest mobile home on the east side of the city, according to the charges.
Friends of Mike and Angela Dixiano said the last time they saw Angela was at a dinner party where she accused her husband and threatened to tell others about his long-running scheme, the charges say.
On Friday, detectives drove to Mile 86 of the Glenn Highway, near Long Lake, and found human remains off the highway, out in the open, said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker. Parker would not say if the detectives believed the remains to be those of Angela Dixiano, saying only that they are linked to her killing.
"We'll wait for positive identification," Parker said. "She's got family out there, friends out there -- we want to be absolutely sure on the identity of the remains before we release that."
Campion said Dixiano gave the detectives precise information on where to find the body. The prosecutor would not say if Dixiano indicated the remains were those of his wife.
Part of any forthcoming sentencing recommendation for Dixiano will depend on further investigation and fact-checking Dixiano's statements to police, Campion said.
The state Medical Examiner's Office was still working Tuesday to identify the body through dental records, DNA or other means if necessary, Parker said.
Angela Dixano's mother told the Daily News in 2011 that Mike Dixano told her Angela died from cancer and that he had her cremated. Parker said the remains found Friday had been exposed to the elements but were clearly a body.
"When we say human remains, obviously human remains that've been out in the Alaska wilderness for two years aren't going to be intact," he said. "But they did find human remains there, identifiable remains, including things like bones."
Campion said prosecutors went ahead with a plea deal with the blessing of Angela Dixiano's mother.
"We wouldn't have done this if Kathy Neal, that's Angela's mother, if we didn't have her support," Campion said.
Mike Dixiano remains jailed in Anchorage. He is scheduled to appear in court for a change of plea hearing Friday.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.