Hooper Bay man charged in alleged drunken slaying of girlfriend

Casey Grove

A Hooper Bay man beat his girlfriend to death Sunday night while drunk on home brew as the couple's two young children watched, according to murder charges filed against the man.

The accused killer, 33-year-old David Hoelscher, put the dead woman on a bed, placed a small cross on her chest and went to confess to a public safety officer in the Bering Sea village of about 1,000 residents Monday afternoon, the charges say.

"I think I did something bad last night when I was drunk," Hoelscher said, according to the charges. "I think I might have killed my honey."

The Hooper Bay village public safety officers called Alaska State Troopers in Bethel and went to Hoelscher's home, where they looked through a window and saw 27-year-old Pauline Mann lying dead inside, the charges say. Trooper Robert Bressler traveled to Hooper Bay to investigate and found large clumps of dark human hair in several spots around Hoelscher's home, Bressler wrote in the charges. Mann had deep red and purple bruises on her face, arms, shoulders, chest, legs and feet, Bressler wrote.

The couple's 9-year-old daughter -- in the home with her 2-year-old sister during the beating -- said her father was angry at her mother Sunday night for "doing a 'bad word' while she was in Anchorage," Bressler wrote. "(She) further stated that her dad started pulling her mom's hair, punching and kicking her. ... When she woke up the next morning, her mom was not breathing and her mom's feet and face were cold."

Hoelscher told the trooper he and Mann were drinking home brew. In rural Alaska communities that have banned alcohol possession or sale, some residents make the simple, intoxicating beverage by mixing yeast, sugar and, oftentimes, fruit juice.

Hoelscher said he was mad because he thought Mann had cheated on him while on a recent trip to Anchorage, the charges say. Hoelscher said he grabbed Mann's hair and threw her around the house, punching her all over her body, the charges say.

"David also stated that while she was on the ground by the bed he stomped on her stomach and that's when he thinks that he killed her," Bressler wrote. "When he woke up the next morning (the girls) were crying next to Pauline."

Troopers arrested Hoelscher and charged him with first-degree murder Tuesday. Mann's body was to be flown to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

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