Wednesday, June 18, 1997
SUSPECT WAS BANK ROBBER
ANCHORAGE - The man
sought in the killing of a couple near Chulitna
was a gunman in one of Alaska's largest bank
Paul Stavenjord, 46, was
convicted and sentenced to six years in prison
for his role in a 1971 Seward bank robbery.
Stavenjord and two other young bank robbers
disappeared into the mountains near Seward with
a duffel bag stuffed with an estimated $150,000.
They were captured after a massive search forced
them back into town.
Alaska State Troopers have spent
the past four days searching for Stavenjord in
the wilderness on both sides of the railroad
tracks north of Talkeetna.
Carmen Gutierrez, a defense
attorney hired to represent Stavenjord, issued a
plea from his family and friends ``to turn
himself in so as to avoid any harm to himself.''
Troopers believe the former
railroad worker and accomplished flute carver
shaved his beard and mustache and disappeared
into the woods after learning he was a suspect
in the Memorial Day weekend slayings near his
back country cabin.
To help with the search, troopers
released a composite drawing Tuesday of what
Stavenjord would look like clean shaven.
Stavenjord faces first-degree
murder charges in connection with the shooting
deaths of Deborah Rehor, 40, and her husband,
Carl ``Rick'' Beery, 48, both of Big Lake.
Palmer District Attorney Ken Goldman said he
also plans to charge Stavenjord with sexually
|Saturday, June 21,
Las Vegas Review
OFFICERS SEARCH WILDERNESS FOR MURDER SUSPECT
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- From her post at Talkeetna's
Fairview Inn, Annie the bartender has a few words of
advice for fugitive Paul Stavenjord: Stay out of town.
He'd better not show his face,"
said Annie, who was unwilling to give her last name
Thursday in case Stavenjord, a convicted bank robber
wanted in a Memorial Day weekend double homicide, is
reading news accounts of the weeklong manhunt aimed at
"It's like the old time," the
bartender said. "You don't call 911. You take care of
A skilled backwoodsman who has
lived in the remote Chulitna area north of Talkeetna for
20 years, Stavenjord is wanted in the shooting deaths of
Deborah Rehor, 40, and her husband, Carl Beery, 48.
A dragnet has concentrated in a
deep forest area 125 miles north of Anchorage, between
the Parks Highway -- the only road connecting Anchorage
and Fairbanks -- and Alaska Railroad tracks to the east,
which carry thousands of tourists each summer to Denali
Stavenjord also is accused of
raping Rehor, whose partially nude body was found June 5
covered with grass and tree limbs.
Alaska State Troopers found
Beery's body May 29 in a nearby creek. Both victims had
been shot in the head.
Suspicion focused on Stavenjord,
an accomplished flute player and black-powder gun
expert, after investigators learned of hard feelings
between him and the victims, allegedly over borrowed
items he failed to return to their cabin.
The bearded man, who troopers say
has since shaved, was last seen Saturday when a security
guard working along the tracks reported seeing
Stavenjord approach on an all-terrain vehicle about 10
miles south of Chulitna.
The four-wheeler, a red Honda
belonging to Rehor, was crashed and abandoned by the
driver. He has not been found.
Veteran law officers say they
immediately connected Stavenjord's name to an Alaska
bank holdup in 1971 that had law officers fanned out in
the mountains above Seward before the three robbers --
toting sawed-off shotguns -- were caught three days
later with $150,000.
"It's like they're hunting
Rambo," said Jaimie Reynolds, an 18-year-old
reservations manager at a Talkeetna air taxi. "There are
hundreds of miles of woods to run in. I wish them luck."
Before the double homicide,
travelers taking to Talkeetna's back country worried
most about confronting an angry bear or moose
Today the once-sleepy town -- a
jumping-off spot for Mount McKinley climbers -- is a
staging spot for troopers armed with assault rifles,
wearing bulletproof vests, mosquito netting and
camouflage face paint.
|June 29, 1997
HUNT WIDENS FOR
Monday, July 14, 1997
WANTED TURNS HIMSELF IN
ANCHORAGE - A Chulitna man
accused of killing a Big Lake couple turned
himself in to Alaska State Troopers after nearly
a month on the run because he wants to prove his
innocence, his attorney said.
"He wanted to establish his
innocence of a serious crime,'' Paul
Stavenjord's lawyer, Carmen Gutierrez said.
``And the sooner he turned himself over to
authorities, the sooner he can begin the
Stavenjord, 46, surrendered late
Saturday night. He is accused of fatally
shooting Deborah Rehor, 40, and her husband,
Carl ``Rick'' Beery, 48, during the Memorial Day
weekend near their Chulitna cabin. Stavenjord,
who lived in a nearby cabin, disappeared the
second week in June after Alaska State Troopers
questioned him and took a saliva sample from
But despite the resolution of his
whereabouts, questions remain about why he ran
in the first place, where he spent the past
month and how he managed to elude a wide-scale
Gutierrez refused to answer any
questions about her client's recent whereabouts.
She said that rather than being a
man on the run, Stavenjord was simply taking the
time he needed to deal with a ``very serious
According to Gutierrez,
Stavenjord called her from downtown Anchorage
about 7:30 p.m. Saturday and told her he was
ready to turn himself in. She would not disclose
where he was when he called.
She met with Stavenjord for
several hours, then called a state trooper and
arranged to have Stavenjord taken into custody,
Trooper spokesman Steve Wilhelmi
said Sunday that investigators did not know
Stavenjord was in Anchorage until Gutierrez
Gutierrez said Stavenjord turned
himself in ``not because he was in any sort of
physical hardship. He just concluded it was time
to do something to bring his case to the justice
She said troopers probably would
not have found him.
In a court appearance Sunday
afternoon, Stavenjord, dressed in blue prison
garb and sporting sunglasses, looked healthy.
His dark hair was trimmed to chin length, and
his formerly bushy beard had been replaced with
the shadow of a few days' growth.
He was being held Sunday night at
Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility on two counts of
first-degree murder, one count of sexual assault
and two counts of theft. Bail was set at $1
million in cash only. An arraignment in state
Superior Court in Palmer was scheduled for 1
Gutierrez said Stavenjord's
family was relieved to hear he had turned
himself in. Those close to the suspect declined
to be interviewed.
Relatives of Beery and Rehor say
they believe someone must have helped Stavenjord.
Don Tidwell Jr., Rehor's brother,
said Stavenjord would have needed assistance to
get to Anchorage. Before his surrender, the
suspect was last seen on foot near Gold Creek,
about 40 miles northeast of Talkeetna. Tidwell
also questioned how Stavenjord knew to call
Gutierrez, who was hired to represent the
suspect after he disappeared.
Thursday, May 28, 1998
TESTIMONY IN CHULITNA DOUBLE-MURDER TRIAL
PALMER - Paul
Stavenjord's account of how his neighbors were
killed on Memorial Day weekend a year ago came
into question as prosecutors grilled him on his
version of how the couple died.
Stavenjord is being tried on two
counts of murder. He spent more than six hours
under cross-examination Wednesday by Palmer
District Attorney Ken Goldman.
Goldman questioned him in detail
about the day Carl ``Rick'' Beery and Deborah
Rehor were killed near Chulitna and his actions
Stavenjord contends he shot Beery
in self-defense after Beery caught him and Rehor
partially clothed. He said the two had just
finished having consensual sex when Beery
arrived on a four-wheeler, saw them and started
shooting. Beery shot his own wife by mistake,
Goldman pointed out several
aspects of Stavenjord's story that he described
Why, for example, did Staven-jord
decide to have sex with his neighbor's wife in
plain view of a well-used trail, the prosecutor
asked. And when the couple saw a four-wheeler
approaching, why did they not try to hide, or at
"No thought comes to anybody's
mind that it might be Rick Beery?'' Goldman
Stavenjord said that at the time
the two were trying to recognize who was on the
four-wheeler. He said he didn't think about the
fact they were in plain view.
The prosecutor also focused on
Stavenjord's actions after the shootings, asking
why he hid evidence and lied to investigators.
"What seemed so farfetched about
defending yourself after getting caught with
another man's wife?'' he asked.
Stavenjord said that he didn't
think anybody would believe him. "It seemed so
incredible, so outrageous,'' he said. "It was
way beyond believable.''
Tuesday, April 14, 1998
MAN KILLED CARL
BEERY IN SELF-DEFENSE, LAWYER SAYS
PALMER - A Chulitna
man on trial for murdering a Big Lake couple
near their backwoods cabin last year is claiming
he shot one of the people in self-defense.
Paul Stavenjord's lawyer said the
reclusive man admits he shot Carl "Rick'' Beery.
But attorney Carmen Gutierrez told jurors Monday
that Beery and Stavenjord exchanged shots after
Beery found his wife, Debra Rehor, and
Stavenjord together and half-naked. Rehor was
killed by a bullet from her husband's weapon,
Gutierrez said in her opening statements.
Prosecutors contend both were
shot by Stavenjord's gun.
This new version of last summer's
events is just the latest of Stavenjord's
untruths, prosecutor Ken Goldman told the
Stavenjord lied consistently to
Alaska State Troopers and even had to write a
script to keep his story straight, Goldman said.
He said troopers found two scripts in
The prosecution will present
ballistics evidence, Goldman said, and will show
that time and again, Stavenjord's story just
didn't check out.
Stavenjord is facing two counts
of first-degree murder in the deaths of Beery,
48, and Rehor, 40, who disappeared over Memorial
Day weekend. They were found dead at a creek
near their cabin in the Chulitna area, both shot
in the head.
Stavenjord said he shot Beery in
self-defense, then discovered Rehor was dead
from her husband's gun, according to Gutierrez.
Troubled by the series of events, and worried
that he wouldn't be believed if he told the
truth, Stavenjord decided to try to disguise
what had happened, she said.
He hid Rehor's body, while
Beery's body was carried by the current to a
hole downstream where it was later found,
Gutierrez said. Stavenjord later disappeared
into the woods and was subject of a month-long
manhunt until he turned himself in to troopers.
While prosecutors argue both
victims were killed with the same weapon,
defense lawyers say two weapons were used. The
bullet that killed Rehor has never been found,
and defense attorneys say the size of the her
wound indicated a larger bullet than the
.22-caliber slug that killed Beery. Both sides
agree Beery was killed by a bullet from
Thursday, June 04, 1998
DELIBERATIONS IN CHULITNA DOUBLE MURDER
PALMER - Jurors
began deliberations Wednesday in the
double-homicide trial of Paul Stavenjord, who
confessed to shooting one of the victims but
claimed it was self-defense.
Prosecutors in closing statements
Tuesday urged the jury to reject that - calling
the story implausible even though the state does
not know why or exactly how Carl Beery and his
wife, Deborah Rehor, were killed.
Authorities say the couple was
ambushed and Rehor was raped last year as they
made their way to their wilderness cabin on
Memorial Day weekend.
Stavenjord claimed he and Rehor
were having sexual relations when they were
found by Beery, who fired and inadvertently
struck and killed Rehor.
Stavenjord, a locally known flute
player and craftsman, said he returned fire in
In their closing statement,
defense lawyers said Stavenjord's version was
more credible than the state's account.
"It makes a whole lot more sense
than an ambush,'' defense lawyer Carmen
Guitierrez said at the conclusion of the
Stavenjord eluded a troopers'
manhunt for a month last year in deep woods off
the Parks Highway before turning himself in on
Palmer Assistant District
Attorney Bill Estelle told jurors to use "common
sense'' in weighing evidence. "There's only one
living witness to the facts and he's not telling
us,'' Estelle said.
Monday, June 08, 1998
CONVICTS STAVENJORD OF MURDER
PALMER - Lawyers
for Paul Stavenjord say they will try to
overturn his conviction on two counts of
A Superior Court jury found
Stavenjord guilty Friday in last year's
shootings of a Big Lake couple.
Palmer jurors were forced to
choose between competing versions of the deaths
after Stavenjord, who took the stand, admitted
killing one of the victims in self-defense.
The state acknowledged it did not
know why - or exactly how - Deborah Rehor and
her husband, Rick Beery, died. But they called
Stavenjord's explanation implausible.
Sentencing was set for September.
Defense lawyers said they would appeal.
Stavenjord, known locally as a
flute player and craftsman, faces up to 99 years
in prison on each murder conviction. He was
acquitted of two counts of theft and a count of
rape. Prosecutors alleged Stavenjord sexually
The verdict was returned one year
to the day after Rehor's body was found in deep
woods near Pass Creek, off the Parks Highway,
which runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Stavenjord eluded a troopers' manhunt for a
month before turning himself over to Anchorage
police July 12. The trial began nearly two
Taking the stand in his own
defense, Stavenjord acknowledged killing Beery -
but only after Beery fired first when he found
Stavenjord and Rehor engaged in sexual
relations. Stavenjord claimed Beery
inadvertently shot and killed his wife.
In an interview Friday with radio
station KTNA, juror Henry Jackson said the panel
found Stavenjord's testimony unbelievable.
Jackson said the jury was troubled that
Stavenjord readily answered questions from
defense lawyers but was less forthcoming on
cross-examination by the state.
Jackson said initial balloting
after jurors received the case Wednesday was 9-3
in favor of convicting Stavenjord on the two
That changed after the group
asked to review the testimony of a state
ballistics expert, who said a .22-caliber pistol
Stavenjord claimed he fired at Beery did not
match a bullet retrieved from the victim's body.
``There was scientific evidence
that it just couldn't be done,'' Jackson said.
Ballistics evidence was less
clear in Rehor's shooting since only bullet
fragments were retrieved.
``The gun that killed these
people is still missing,'' Jackson said.
``Something happened at Pass Creek that no one
knows - I don't mean no one, someone knows.''
One juror wept Friday as verdicts
were read aloud, as did Stavenjord's children,
13-year-old Josh and daughter Rebecca, a college
student. Stavenjord showed no reaction.