WASILLA — A homeless Wasilla man is in custody on suspicion of first-degree murder for the beating death of another homeless man.
John Martin, 47, was arrested at 5:15 p.m., Saturday, about an hour after Wasilla police were called to a camper behind the Mug-Shot Saloon, 251 W. Parks Highway, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Wasilla Police Department Officer Daniel Bennett.
In talking with police, Martin said he recalls fighting with the victim, Russell Metcalf, 60, on Oct. 1, but that during the fight he blacked-out, Bennett writes in the affidavit.
“When he regained his senses, he was standing over Metcalf with his arm drawn back like he was going to strike him,” the affidavit says. “Martin indicated he could not provide any details about the fight other than he had used his hands and feet to assault Metcalf.”
A person looking for Metcalf discovered his body when they went to the trailer looking for him, said Wasilla Police Chief Gene Belden.
“Somebody went to visit (Metcalf) and reported finding him,” Belden said, adding that Metcalf was known to stay in the trailer and that Martin “was also known to be around there quite a bit.”
According to Bennett’s affidavit, officers spoke with a witness at the scene who knew both men. The witness said that, “Martin told him he had killed Metcalf during a fight” on Oct. 1. After talking with the witness, Bennett writes that he located Martin at the Holiday gas station in Wasilla and that during an interview with Bennett, “Martin admitted to killing Metcalf.”
During that interview, Martin said he met Metcalf at about 7 p.m. at the Mug-Shot, where Metcalf wanted Martin to help him persuade the bar’s owner to allow them to keep Martin’s camper on the property a little longer, the affidavit says. Martin said he declined and went back to his camper in the back of the bar’s parking lot. That’s when Metcalf allegedly assaulted him.
“As Martin got to the door of the camper, he heard someone walking up behind him,” Bennett writes in the affidavit. “He turned and was struck in the mouth my Metcalf’s fist.”
Martin said the assault was unexpected and that the men had been “best friends,” Bennett writes. Then he Martin said he blacked out. But Metcalf was still alive when he regained his composure, he said.
“Martin said he helped Metcalf into the camper and assisted him lying down on the bed,” the affidavit says. “Martin stated that Metcalf asked him to get him some water. Martin stated that he was gone for only a few minutes before returning to the camper.”
Martin remains at the Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. He bail has been set at $50,000.As for an official cause of death, the Wasilla Police Department is awaiting results from an examination by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, Belden said. But in Bennett’s affidavit, Metcalf’s injuries are described as “substantial trauma to his head.”
Contact Greg Johnson at 352-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.