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DNA links prison inmate to 1994 Bonnie Craig murder
Anchorage Daily News


May 02, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A grand jury has charged a former Anchorage soldier with murder in the slaying of Bonnie Craig, an 18-year-old college student who was raped and savagely beaten before she toppled over a cliff into a creek in 1994.

Kenneth Dion, now 37 and in prison in New Hampshire for a series of armed robberies there, has also been charged with rape in one of the most highly publicized and emotional slayings in Anchorage in recent decades.




DNA evidence that prosecutors say links Dion to the slaying was central to the solution, according to cold-case investigators.

"It's a major step in a case that was of significance to Anchorage and a burden to the family for years," prosecutor Pat Gullufsen said.

Dion was on probation on an Anchorage robbery conviction and had been out of prison for only a few months when Bonnie Craig was killed.

"Just to know he's already in jail and there's no way he can hurt anyone else is a relief," said Bonnie's mother, Karen Foster. She said she had been told in January that charges could be coming in the slaying of her daughter, who had been a high school wrestler and had taught swimming to junior high kids.

Troopers were able to match semen found on Bonnie with Dion through a national computer database of DNA profiles. Dion was never known to troopers and wasn't a suspect in the case until the DNA match came back in November.

"There is no doubt about this one," trooper cold-case investigator Jim Stogsdill said of the match. "There's no confusion."

Dion likely did not know Bonnie, Stogsdill said, but apparently picked her up as she walked to a bus stop on Lake Otis Parkway on the way to an early-morning class on Sept. 28, 1994, at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her body was found that afternoon by a hiker at McHugh Creek.

Dion, originally from New Hampshire, came to Alaska as a soldier and was stationed at Fort Richardson, then stayed for a couple of years after he left the military. He did not have a job at the time of Bonnie's slaying and was in and out of jail on robbery and assault charges. He was 25 years old when Bonnie was killed.

He was in jail in Alaska at the end of July 1994, two months before Bonnie's death. And he returned to jail on a probation violation about two months after the slaying.

Troopers say Bonnie was beaten and raped before she fell off a cliff near the Seward Highway. Her body was found floating in McHugh Creek. Troopers have said she died of a head injury and hypothermia.

As to how Bonnie got to McHugh Creek, 10 miles from her home, or where she was raped, or whether she was struck in the head by her killer or she injured her head in the fall off the 30-foot cliff, "we can only surmise," Stogsdill said.

The hunt for her killer mesmerized Anchorage. Family and friends posted photocopies of the doe-eyed teenager, asking for anyone with information about her killer to call troopers. Clues, though, were few and far between. And as the years passed, the crime remained unsolved and a reminder to young women walking alone that a brutal rapist had not been found.

As authorities kept looking, technology advanced to better match DNA, and more people were put into a national database.

DNA from Bonnie's case was put in the national database by New Hampshire authorities in November 2006. Immediately, when workers with the Alaska state crime lab were conducting their routine weekly check of the database, they had a match.

Authorities then collected new DNA from Dion, which was taken back to Anchorage and matched again, Stogsdill said.

Dion, who left Alaska around 1996, made it back to New Hampshire, where he committed a series of robberies beginning in May 2002, according to authorities there.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, Dion was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February 2003 for five robberies that occurred from spring 2002 until he was incarcerated. According to the department's Web site, he is eligible for parole in August 2008.

Alaska authorities will try to have him extradited here to face the new charges. And, if he is convicted, he will likely finish out his sentence in New Hampshire, then be transferred to an Alaska prison.


Contact Megan Holland at mrholland(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

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