A grand jury has indicted Aaron Mitchell Hague in the killing of his former roommate, John McClelland, 61, who vanished from the home they rented in North Pole in mid-August 2020.
Hague, 33, already faces murder and identity theft charges in a March 2021 homicide in Gresham, Oregon, and is being held in a Portland jail.
He’s now also charged with first-degree murder in the death of McClelland, suspected to have occurred between Aug. 14, 2020, and Aug. 26, 2020, in the Fairbanks area, according to the indictment filed Friday in the Fourth Judicial District of the Superior Court for Alaska in Fairbanks.
Alaska investigators have said Hague fled to Oregon to avoid questions about his roommate’s disappearance.
McClelland appeared to last use his bank debit card at 5:43 p.m. Aug. 14, 2020, when he bought diesel for his truck at a gas station in Fairbanks. Police suspect Hague was last in the Fairbanks area on Aug. 26, 2020.
The Alaska indictment also charges Hague with tampering with physical evidence and second-degree theft, alleging he concealed McClelland’s body and stole from him.
McClelland has never been found.
McClelland’s daughter, Taylor Wick, of Vancouver, Washington, said her family is relieved to learn of the new indictment.
After her father’s disappearance, Wick went on the internet and placed missing person fliers about her father on at least 66 different Alaska sites. She also shared tips she received with investigators.
Last July, Wick, her brother and their mother, McClelland’s ex-wife, flew to Alaska to do their own search, hiking on dirt roads near the remote Gilmore Trail area in the Fairbanks gold mining district, where her father’s cellphone had last been detected with Hague’s cellphone, according to court testimony.
“This is a step in the right direction,” she told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Saturday.
“Every step will hopefully help us find more answers, or potentially his remains. Our ultimate goal is to be able to lay my father to rest in a proper way,” Wick said. “This will hopefully get us closer to that.”
Hague’s defense lawyer, Jonathan T. Sarre, declined comment on the new indictment.
Hague used McClelland’s phone to send text messages to McClelland’s brother in August 2020, suggesting that McClelland had fallen seriously ill and asked the brother to send money, Alaska authorities said. Alaska State Troopers scoured care centers and hospitals in the area and found no sign of the missing man. His truck was found abandoned south of North Pole on Aug. 24, 2020.
Yet financial records showed Hague used McClelland’s bank card to make significant purchases between Aug. 14, 2020, and Aug. 16, 2020, investigators allege. For example, he used the card to buy $1,460 worth of gaming equipment at a Fairbanks Walmart and opened an account in McClelland’s name with Alaska’s largest telecommunications provider, GCI, to order the fastest internet service possible, according to court testimony.
Hague later showed up in the fall of 2020 at the Sullivan Arena homeless shelter in Anchorage, where he met Anthony Alcorn of Ohio. When Alaska State Troopers went to the shelter to question him about McClelland’s disappearance, Hague claimed he was his brother Jesse and that Aaron Hague was in Russia, according to court testimony from Alaska troopers.
On Oct. 21, 2020, Hague flew to Seattle and took a train to Portland, where he assumed the name of Alcorn, according to court records. In March 2021, Hague convinced the real Alcorn, 28, to fly to Portland from Alaska, on the promise of a good job in the Portland area. Days later, Alcorn’s body was found in the woods off the Springwater Corridor in Gresham. He had died of blunt force trauma to this head, an autopsy found.
Gresham Detective Justin Pick said Hague was living and working as Alcorn in the Gresham area. Hague brought Alcorn to Oregon to kill him, Multnomah County prosecutor Shawn Overstreet alleged in court.
In July 2021, a jury in a civil hearing in Alaska declared McClelland was presumed dead and likely died by homicide, based on testimony from his daughter, his boss and Alaska State Troopers.
“We believe that he was 100% murdered,” Sgt. Jeremy Rupe, an investigator for the Alaska State Troopers, testified at the unusual death presumption hearing late last year.
McClelland’s brother, his former boss, Hague’s brother, father and probation officer, Alcorn’s mother and the lead Gresham police detective in Alcorn’s killing were among about 40 people who testified before the grand jury that returned the murder indictment against Hague in the Alaska case, records show.
McClelland had been working at a property management company in the area of North Pole for about two and a half years before he disappeared. He was doing building maintenance, painting houses and other odd jobs, according to his supervisor. Hague had worked for the same company.
Hague is awaiting trial in Multnomah County in Alcorn’s killing. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and identity theft in that case. He’s set to go to trial in Portland on July 25. The Multnomah County trial is expected to proceed before he faces the charges in the Alaska case, though bail in that case has been set at $2 million.