Report from KUCB’s Laura Kraegel in Unalaska
Seven months after a U.S. Coast Guard seaman was found dead in Unalaska a fellow member has been charged with his murder — and is now awaiting court martial proceedings.
19-year-old Seaman Ethan Tucker was charged Wednesday with the murder of Ethan Kelch — another 19-year-old seaman, who was also stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro.
When the Kodiak-based vessel stopped in Unalaska in January for repairs, Kelch went missing while off-duty. The Virginia man was later found unresponsive in waters near the port — and pronounced dead at the clinic.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate on the motivation or cause of this incident because there is an ongoing investigation that continues.”
That’s NyxoLyno Cangemi of Coast Guard Public Affairs.
He says Tucker, who’s from Michigan, has been confined to a military prison in San Diego — and charged with seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“Including two specifications for murder, one specification for involuntary manslaughter, two specifications for aggravated assault, one for maiming, another for obstructing justice, [another for] making a false official statement, and a specification for failure to obey a general lawful order.”
According to charging documents, investigators say Tucker struck Kelch in the head and strangled him — before placing and leaving him in the water. They also say Tucker misled rescuers who were searching for Kelch, made a false statement to investigators, and consumed alcohol while underage.
If found guilty at a court-martial trial, Tucker faces …
“Dishonorable discharge, confinement for life, and a total forfeiture of pay and allowances. But it’s also important to note that Seaman Tucker is innocent until proven guilty and these charges merely represent allegations.”
Those allegations come after seven months of inquiry by the Coast Guard Investigative Service — with help from Unalaska and state authorities.
Cangemi declined to comment on Tucker’s prior military record and whether it includes any misconduct, citing the confidentiality of personnel records. Tucker’s first hearing is scheduled in California for Friday.
In Unalaska, I’m LK.