Time Was 3/15/12

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 20:00
21 years ago this week in the Star
Fire takes community leader

A wood stove was suspected in a fire that took the life of well-known businesswoman and community leader Marianna Koehler on March 9, 1991, according to several pages of coverage in the Star.

A front-page story on the fatal blaze at Mile 21 of the Old Glenn Highway in Peters Creek included a photo of Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department members battling the fire, which eventually consumed Koehler’s wood home. She had apparently been trapped in a downstairs area of the home, and heavy flames repulsed rescuers who arrived shortly after the fire broke out.

As a real estate agent and property developer, Mrs. Koehler and her husband, Bill, helped develop many of the subdivisions in the Chugiak-Eagle River area and built the Eklutna Lodge, according to an obituary on Page 3. The obituary also detailed Koehler’s many civic contributions, which included helping to found the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, serving on the nominating committees for MTA and MEA, serving on the board of trustees for the Chugiak Senior Citizens Foundation and tireless work to beautify the community. Koehler, who had recently celebrated her 67th birthday, had been honored in 1984 with the Bearpaw Award for outstanding community service.


A bad night in Birchwood

A trip to the Pacesetter Lounge in North Birchwood turned out all kinds of bad for 26-year-old Russell G. Johnson. According to an item on Page 5, “Johnson’s downfall began when he called police from a N. Eagle River Loop Road address and reported he had been assaulted…”

According to the report, Johnson told police he’d been winning at pool, and tried to leave while he was ahead. No such luck. According to his report, an unknown, thin, 27-year-old white male with a full beard struck Johnson with a pool stick. Two other men then also jumped into the fray, he alleged.

Unfortunately for Johnson, when he and the cops returned to the bar, none of the alleged suspects were around – and nobody who was knew anything about any assault.

Police didn’t leave empty handed, though. During a routine check, they learned Johnson himself had outstanding warrants for DWI and reckless driving.

He was taken to the 6th Avenue Jail.


Glenn shooter convicted of murder

Douglas Gustafson, 18, was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 20-year-old Jeffery Cain, according to a front-page story detailing the verdict.

According to the story, Gustafson had originally been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting, which occurred the previous fall on the Glenn Highway. The piece said Gustafson, who was a passenger in one vehicle, shot Cain, a passenger in another car, while they were driving.

Gustafson’s attorney said he planned to appeal the verdict.

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