Crime & Courts

Charges: Evidence of blood found at home of Anchorage man accused of killing wife

Almost three weeks after Linda Skeek was last seen alive, detectives investigating her disappearance found evidence of blood throughout the house that she shared with her husband, as well as a mark "consistent with a human bite mark" on his arm, according to court documents.

Now, he's accused of killing her and trying to cover up the crime.

Police said Wednesday evening that Thomas Skeek Jr., 33, had been charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as tampering with physical evidence, in the disappearance of Linda Skeek, 32. He was arrested Wednesday after detectives searched the Skeek home and a vehicle.

Detectives said they found what they believe to be blood in both the home and the vehicle. Blood evidence was found near the entrance to a basement crawl space, splattered on a kitchen wall and cleaned off a light switch near the back door of their South Anchorage apartment, according to an arrest warrant for Thomas Skeek filed in the case. Blood was also found in the family's Lincoln Navigator, according to the document.

The search warrants were served after two weeks of witness interviews, scouring phone and bank records and examining social media posts. Friends and family expressed optimism that Linda Skeek would return alive, the charges show.

Thomas Skeek made an initial court appearance Thursday at the Anchorage jail. He shielded his face from view, saying little beyond "yes" and "no" in response to a judge's questions. He was assigned a public defender, as he told the judge he wasn't employed and relied on services like food stamps.

His bail was set at $500,000 and a third-party custodian. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Officers began searching for Linda Skeek on Jan. 4, when Thomas Skeek reported she hadn't been seen since New Year's Day.

The husband told authorities that Linda Skeek walked out of the residence after a "verbal altercation" and that was the last time he saw her, police reported. Investigators later said they considered the case suspicious.

Following Thomas Skeek's initial police interview, he again met with police on Jan. 14. During the second interview, he told police he spent New Year's Eve driving Linda Skeek around to various Anchorage bars in the family's Navigator, with two children waiting in the vehicle with him.

"Thomas would essentially drop his wife off at various bars, while waiting at each location with the children (in the car), until she was ready for the next destination," Henikman said.

He said the family got home around 1 a.m., according to an affidavit from APD Detective Ross Henikman.

A neighbor of the Skeeks', however, told police she saw Linda Skeek walking in the roadway away from the couple's house at 11:48 p.m. The neighbor said she remembered the time because she was a designated driver that night and late to pick up some friends, according to the charges. She also said she observed Thomas Skeek standing in the doorway of their residence.

A man came forward the same day as Thomas Skeek's second interview and said that he'd been in a sexual relationship with Linda Skeek, Henikman said. The man said he called Linda on her work phone, but he would also call the Skeek family's lone cellphone. If Thomas Skeek picked up, he would hang up, according to the charges.

He said New Year's Eve was the last time he'd heard from Linda Skeek.

According to the affidavit, Thomas Skeek described his relationship with his wife as "rocky" in recent months and said that Linda would often drink heavily on the weekends. An Alaska Office of Children's Services report retrieved by police indicated Linda Skeek pointed a loaded handgun at her husband on more than one occasion, the affidavit said. Linda Skeek had also filed a petition for domestic violence protective orders against Thomas in November, and said that Thomas had grabbed her and pushed her, leaving bruises, according to the document.

Linda Skeek's mother, Laura Sheldon, who sent an email to Alaska Dispatch News when Linda was still reported as missing, said her daughter had three young children, aged 12, 7 and 5. The oldest lives in Juneau, while the Skeeks were raising the younger two in Anchorage. The charges say Linda Skeek was the breadwinner of the family.

"She is very important to us; we love her and miss her," Sheldon wrote of her daughter.

Family members declined to comment at the Anchorage jail Thursday.

In yet another police interview on Jan. 16, Thomas Skeek offered officers a look at his newly purchased cellphone without prompting.

"I noted that his hand was visibly trembling," Henikman wrote.

The day Thomas Skeek was arrested, Linda Skeek's father, Doug Sheldon, said he'd been living with Thomas at the home since his daughter's disappearance. Henikman said detectives had been trying to locate Sheldon, but Thomas Skeek had told them he didn't know where Sheldon was.

Sheldon reportedly told detectives he'd seen Thomas Skeek enter the crawl space -- the same crawl space where investigators found evidence of blood -- to look for "artwork" on one occasion since Linda went missing.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Chris Klint contributed to this report.