FBI searches area around site of Kodiak double homicide

Casey Grove

Volunteers and federal investigators searched an area on Kodiak Island on Wednesday near the site of last month's fatal shooting at a Coast Guard communication station, the FBI said.

A suspect is still at large in the April 12 slaying of retired Coast Guard shipmate Richard Belisle, 51, and Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins, 41. The FBI says residents of Kodiak, about 250 miles south of Anchorage, are not in danger.

Authorities have not publicly identified a suspect and have said little about the case in the nearly three weeks since the killings. Investigators today were asking for help from the public in combing an area that surrounds the rigging shop where a Coast Guard employee found the bodies of Belisle and Hopkins, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday.

"We're looking for things that may have been discarded," Gonzalez said. He wouldn't say whether searchers were told to look for a firearm or other specific evidence. Radio station KMXT reported the searchers split into groups of 20 and were instructed to look for items including a gun, pieces of a gun, clothes, boots or plastic bags. Some brought metal detectors to the search, the radio station said.

About 120 volunteers arrived to help search outside the rigging shop, Gonzalez said. The FBI asked for the public's help because investigators needed more "eyes on the ground" across the large search area, he said.

"The crime scene itself has been processed," Gonzalez said. "We're just now expanding the area in which we're searching."

Gonzalez said the volunteers were looking for anything "non-organic" in the foliage outside the rigging shop and along Anton Larsen Bay Road. The road runs near the communication station, where about 60 people work relaying distant messages and calls for help. The station is just down the road from the U.S. Coast Guard's largest base, where thousands of Coast Guard personnel are stationed.

Gonzalez would not say if the volunteers found anything Wednesday. KMXT reported that the search found no evidence.

Gonzalez said investigators have conducted other searches related to the shooting but would not comment on reports that the home of a man who worked with the victims had been searched.

In late April, the FBI asked for information from anyone who had seen a blue 2001 Honda CRV parked on Anton Larsen Bay Road the morning of the shootings.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

Photos: Coast Guard honors Kodiak homicide victims
Anchorage Daily News