Alaska State Troopers are investigating the death of a 13-year-old girl whose body was found in a church late Tuesday night in a Southeast Alaska village.
Troopers identified the girl late Wednesday as Kake resident Mackenzie H. Howard. She was found inside the Memorial Presbyterian Church, said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.
The discovery was reported to troopers at 11:34 p.m. Tuesday. Members of the Alaska Bureau of Investigations arrived in Kake on Wednesday, along with a team from the state crime lab to collect evidence, Peters said.
Citing the ongoing investigation, troopers have refused to talk in detail about the death. Peters would not say if it appeared she died a violent death or if investigators suspect foul play.
"At this point troopers have not classified the death as anything other than a death investigation," Peters said. "We are going to wait for autopsy results to tell us the cause and manner of death."
Prior to the discovery of Howard's death, a memorial was held in Kake on Tuesday, Peters said. She did not say who the memorial was for.
Peters said a large number of people were in town for that ceremony but have since left, complicating the investigation as troopers follow tips and rumors circulating in the largely Tlingit community of about 600 people.
Kake is 38 air miles northwest of Petersburg and 95 air miles southwest of Juneau.
Troopers are asking anyone with information about the death or the girl's whereabouts on Tuesday to call the Ketchikan trooper dispatch office at 225-5118.
By KYLE HOPKINS
Anchorage Daily News