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Alaska News

Kodiak Island Coast Guard killer still at large, 2 months later

  • Author: Amanda Coyne
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 12, 2012

It's been two months now and there's still no arrest for the April 12 shootings of two men in broad daylight on the U.S. Coast Guard base at Kodiak Island. The killings shocked Kodiak, a community of about 6,000, of which roughly half are either active or retired Coast Guard.

The FBI is leading the investigation and working with the Coast Guard Investigative Services and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

FBI spokesman Eric Gonzales said Tuesday that there's nothing new to report on the investigation.

The killings of Rich Belisle and James Hopkins, retired and active Coast Guard members, respectively, happened in the rigger shop next to the Guard's communication center, referred to by Coasties as ComSta, located about three miles from the main base and one mile off the highway in town.

The rigger shop is where repairs are done on roughly 40 antennas for Coast Guard communications stations across Alaska. The stations do everything from tracking aircraft to relaying messages from ships in distress to transmitting weather updates. Sixty people work at ComSta. At least six are on duty at any time, including two civilians. The two civilians who worked at the shop were Belisle and James Wells.

Although he hasn't been named as an official suspect, the FBI searched the Wells house and agents have been watching it from a house nearby.

According to official accounts, the double murder happened between 7 and 8 a.m. Belisle's shift began at 7 a.m. Others in the crew were supposed to start at 7:30 a.m. A worker at ComSta found the two men shot dead.

Unlike the ComSta station -- which is behind a security fence -- the rigger shop where the men's bodies were found appears unguarded.

Nicola Belisle, Rich's widow, and her two daughters have been in Colorado for a few weeks. They needed to get off the island, she said. Her house overlooks the Wells house.

"I expected it to be done with by now," she said. The FBI is the best in the business, she said. "I still trust that they're going find the person that did this and prosecute them."

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)

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