Third man arrested in Bethel torture killing investigation

Casey Grove

A third man has been arrested on charges stemming from the investigation into the torture and murder of a Hooper Bay teenager in Bethel, according to police in the Southwest Alaska city.

David Kenney, 37, was heading out of state when airport police in Anchorage caught up with him Friday minutes before he was to board a flight. He was jailed him on a charge of hindering prosecution.

Bethel police said he did not tell them he had seen a bludgeoned 19-year-old Benjamin Kaiser bound to a table saw in a shop a day-and-a-half before investigators, acting on a tip from another man, found Kaiser dead on Wednesday.

Bethel residents Jeffrey Hout and Harry Williams are charged with first-degree murder in Kaiser's death, according to documents filed in court. They beat Kaiser with multiple blunt objects because they thought Kaiser knew the whereabouts of a missing truck, police said.

Bethel police chief Larry Elarton told The Tundra Drums newspaper it was one of the most violent cases he'd seen in more than 30 years of investigating homicides.

Police said they contacted Kenney 36 hours after he'd seen the beaten teenager. Another witness, Nick Cooke, who told them he'd seen Kaiser tied to the table Wednesday morning, said that Kenney knew something about it, according to court documents.

Kenney, a law clerk at the Bethel court, initially denied knowing anything. He eventually told police it was his truck the two accused murderers were looking for, and he'd seen Kaiser tied to the table.

Kenney called Hout and Williams throughout the day Tuesday asking about Kaiser's condition, but he did not make any report to law enforcement or medical personnel, police said.

The investigation continues, and the Bethel Police Department is still looking for anyone with information. They can be reached at (907) 543-3781.

Find Casey Grove online at or call him at 257-4589.