Nikiski mechanic's death believed to be homicide

Posted: Sunday, January 06, 2002

SOLDOTNA (AP) -- The body of a 61-year-old airplane mechanic was found in a Nikiski hangar Friday, and Alaska State Troopers say they are investigating the death as the first homicide of the new year.

The victim, Gerald Sibley, 61, apparently lived in an apartment inside the hangar at a private airstrip near Mile 18 of the Kenai Spur Highway, troopers said.

His body was discovered at 9:20 a.m. by a customer who stopped by to talk to Sibley about repairs, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the troopers. He said Sibley's body was flown to Anchorage and an autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

Troopers from Soldotna and Anchorage, along with crime scene technicians, examined the scene for most of the day, Wilkinson said.

Troopers refused to say how Sibley died. Some details may only be known by a suspect, Wilkinson said.

Sibley did not own the hangar, and troopers said he apparently lived there alone.

He was a wiry outdoorsman who loved the state and enjoyed fishing, hunting and trapping, said Joan Hart, his ex-wife. He was also respected as a gifted aircraft mechanic, she said.

''He was very well known in Alaska,'' she said.

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