Cooper Gordon

Cooper Gordon appears at his Superior Court arraignment Tuesday, Nov. 5.

PALMER — Cooper Gordon was arraigned in Superior Court at the Palmer Courthouse Tuesday, Nov. 5 for the murder of fellow Wasilla resident Terry Spencer.

Gordon is currently facing five charges, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and robbery with a $1 million bail ($500,000 cash appearance and $500,000 cash performance), according to court documents.

Gordon, 39 was arrested for the murder of Spencer, 32 less than a week after Spencer’s body was discovered.

A hunter found Spencer’s body off an all-terrain vehicle trail near Nightfall Drive in the Wasilla area Oct. 19. His body was covered in blue blanket with a single gunshot wound to the head, according to court documents.

Alaska State Troopers worked with someone close to Spencer and gathered information via Facebook Messenger and Google accounts, which ultimately led to Gordon, according to court documents. Troopers discovered a message involving a meeting between Spencer and Gordon. The final message Troopers found was received Oct. 17 around 5:30 p.m. and they suspect Spencer was killed around that time frame.

Gordon’s next court appearance will be for a pretrial conference with Palmer Judge Jonathan Woodman presiding Dec. 19 at 2:30 p.m. with a scheduled trial week set for Jan. 13, 2020.

After Gordon’s proceedings, a group of 10 walked out of the courtroom. They were Spencer’s surviving family and they gathered from across the state and Lower 48 for the arraignment.

“We want to make sure to keep the courtroom full,” Spencer’s sister, Audrey Cucullu, said.

Cucullu lives in Kenai. She recalled the fateful day on Oct. 19. She said the troopers knocked at her door around 10:30 a.m. to break the news to her.

“From there, I fell apart,” Cucullu said.

Cucullu said that the family has since banded together to attend the upcoming proceedings and see this case through.

“There’s so many different emotions that we’re all experiencing,” Cucullu said.

Spencer’s mother, Pam Rutledge, was holding a big, framed photo of her deceased son throughout the arraignment.

“I’m still in shock I think,” Rutledge said.

Outside the courtroom, she held up another picture. It was a family Christmas photo with Spencer lying on everyone’s lap dressed up as Santa.

Cucullu said that her brother dressed up as Santa each Christmas for many years. She said that he loved bringing everyone together and spending time with the spread out family during the holidays.

“Terry was very, very, super into family,” Cucullu said. “He would spend weeks making sure his family was in one place.”

Rutledge said that she’s moving back to Alaska from Texas in light of all this. She said the moving process has been a financial burden but it’s something she has to do.

Cucullu said this process has been financially stressful for everyone, on top of their overwhelming grief over Spencer’s death. She said the nature of her brother’s death and the subsequent trial has made the grieving process all the more difficult for the family, like digging up the same wound again and again.

“So now, we’re stuck in this grief limbo because we’re having to continue to do this over and over until justice is served,” Cucullu said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at

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