Crime & Courts

Anchorage man sentenced to serve 55 years in prison for killing zoo gardener in 2018

An Anchorage man was sentenced this week to serve 55 years in prison for killing the head gardener of the Alaska Zoo in 2018.

Clayton Andrew Charlie, now 36, pleaded guilty in 2019 to second-degree murder in the death of 45-year-old Michael Greco. Eighteen other charges against him were dismissed in accordance with a plea agreement.

Charlie’s family previously said he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He had been acting violently in the months leading up to the killing, and his parents said he posed a risk to the public. Charlie had filtered in and out of jail and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute before Greco’s murder.

Less than two weeks before Greco’s death, Charlie had been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in a series of open criminal cases for a string of assaults that had occurred earlier that year.

On Nov. 4, 2018, Charlie stole his family’s Chevy Tahoe and ended up in the zoo parking lot around 7 p.m., according to an affidavit and arrest warrant signed by a police detective. Greco was filling in as a night watchman when he came into contact with Charlie.

After an altercation, the charges said Charlie stabbed Greco multiple times and drove over him before fleeing the area. He used Greco’s credit card at several locations, the charges said.

A witness had called 911 to report seeing a person on the ground in the parking lot with another person standing over them and punching them, the affidavit said. Police responded to the area but officers did not find anyone or observe a disturbance, the charges said. Greco’s body was found the next morning.

Charlie was arrested on Nov. 5 after he refused to pull over for Wasilla police and Alaska State Troopers. Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson sentenced him Wednesday to 75 years in prison, with 20 of those years suspended.

Greco was described by staff at the zoo as a cheerful man who loved his job. He took on the zoo’s annual holiday lights celebration as his own project after he was hired as head gardener.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at