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Suspect charged in mysterious slayings at remote Coast Guard station in Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard via AP

This July 2, 2011 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Richard Belisle, second from left, and Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins, second from right, with James Wells, left, and Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Cody Beauford as they help erect a communications antenna on Shemya Island, Alaska. Belisle and Hopkins were slain in April 2012, and Wells reportedly has now been charged with their murders.

Authorities in Alaska have charged a suspect in the mysterious killing last year of two employees at a U.S. Coast Guard communications station in Kodiak, it was reported Friday.


NBC News’ Anchorage affiliate KTUU and the Anchorage Daily News both reported the charges Friday evening, citing a written statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The statement provided no detail on what led authorities to the suspect, identified as Kodiak resident James Michael Wells, KTUU reported. It simply said he had been charged with murder in the deaths of James Hopkins and Richard Belisle and is expected to appear in federal court in Anchorage next week.


Hopkins, a Coast Guard electrician's mate, and Belisle, a retired boatswain's mate and civilian employee, were found dead at the Coast Guard station on April 12, 2012.

KTUU reported in May that the FBI asked if anyone had seen two vehicles, a white 2002 Dodge Ram pick-up truck and a blue 2001 Honda CR-V. It said that vehicles matching the descriptions belonged to James and Nancy Wells of Bell Flats, a Kodiak Island town about 12 miles from downtown Kodiak, and that the FBI had searched the couple’s property.

Authorities declined to comment on the report. James Wells, a civilian rigger who worked alongside Belisle and Hopkins repairing antennas, told KTUU at the time. “It’s our policy not to talk to anybody.”

The communication station, which monitors May Day air and maritime traffic, is about two miles from the main Coast Guard base on Kodiak, an island about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. About 6,300 people live in the island's main town of Kodiak, where the base is located. The base has about 1,000 Coast Guard personnel and several hundred civilian employees.