Cold Case: Ketchikan man convicted for 1993 crimes

Ketchikan Man Convicted of 1993 First-Degree Sexual Assault and Second-Degree Sexual Abuse of a Minor.

Following a week-long trial, a Ketchikan jury today (Jan. 16th, 2023) found 54-year-old Michael Williams guilty for the sexual assault and sexual abuse of a fourteen-year-old girl near Ketchikan High School in 1993.

The jury deliberated for approximately one hour before finding Williams guilty of one count of Sexual Assault in the First Degree and one count of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the Second Degree

On Jan. 24, 1993, the then-14-year-old victim reported that she had been followed, grabbed from behind, dragged to a nearby dugout, and sexually assaulted by a man who told her he had a knife and threatened to use it on her. After the incident, she immediately ran to a nearby house and reported the rape to an adult and then to the police. The victim reported she could not see her assailant’s face because it was covered with a scarf. A sexual assault kit, including vaginal swabs, was collected and sent to the Alaska State Crime Detection Laboratory for testing. Despite extensive investigation by the Ketchikan Police Department, the case went cold.

In 2004, the Alaska State Crime Laboratory developed a DNA profile from evidence collected from the victim’s sexual assault kit. That profile was later uploaded into CODIS, a nationwide DNA database, however the unknown profile never matched to any DNA profile in the database.

Ketchikan Police Department officers repeatedly reopened the case, re-examined the evidence, and conducted follow up investigation. However, they remained unable to identify a viable suspect in the sexual assault until 2021, when testing of an unrelated sexual assault kit as part of the Alaska Capital Project led to a match in the CODIS DNA database to Michael Williams. The Lab confirmed the match by comparing the DNA sample from the victim’s sexual assault kit to a known sample taken from Michael Williams.

The case was initially investigated by former Ketchikan Police Department detectives Anna (Endecott) Goemer and Jerry Seufert, who both testified at the trial. Between 1993 and 2021, the case was investigated by multiple Ketchikan Police Department detectives. KPD Lieutenant Andy Berntson investigated the case in 2021 and testified at trial.

Assistant Attorney General Erin McCarthy of the Office of Special Prosecutions’ Cold Case Unit prosecuted the case for the State.

“We are thankful that a jury held Michael Williams accountable for this crime. We hope the victim and her family, and the community of Ketchikan, can obtain some closure in light of this verdict,” McCarthy said. “The State appreciates the attention and dedication of the jurors in this case. The Department of Law thanks the Ketchikan Police Department, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Lab, the Alaska State Troopers, the Sitka Police Department, and the United States Coast Guard for their partnership and assistance in investigating this case over the course of several decades.”

Williams is being held without bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for April 29, 2024, at 9 a.m. The two charges will merge at sentencing pursuant to Alaska law. Williams faces a maximum sentence of 30 years for the first-degree sexual assault conviction, pursuant to the sentencing laws that were in place in 1993.