Body found in Tenakee missing woman's, residents say

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Though officials on Wednesday would not confirm the identity of a body found partly buried in Tenakee Springs Tuesday, friends and family of a 19-year-old Juneau woman who disappeared March 26 told the Juneau Empire it is her body.

Alaska State Troopers say they're investigating the case as a homicide.

After five days of searching, volunteer searchers Tuesday found a body in the woods behind the Tenakee Springs School.

They believe it is Maggie Wigen, who split her time between Juneau and Tenakee, residents said. Tenakee is about 50 miles southwest of Juneau and has a population of around 100.

Troopers were not releasing any information about the body until they finished examining the area where it was found. Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said the body might be flown out of Tenakee Wednesday night and an autopsy was planned on Thursday.

''This is Tenakee. There aren't just random dead bodies floating around out there,'' said a resident who was part of the search for Wigen and asked to remain anonymous. ''It's her. There's no question.''

At least five independent sources have confirmed it is Wigen, according to the Empire.

Crime-scene technicians and investigators arrived at 10 a.m. Wednesday and were checking the area around the body first, Wilkinson said.

Wigen was last seen walking with her dog around 3 p.m. March 26 on the trail into Tenakee, a roadless town built on a long, thin stretch of land between Tenakee Inlet and a series of hills and mountains. She was reported missing Friday when her dog wandered into town alone.

Residents began a search and troopers started a formal search Saturday, which they suspended on Sunday evening. Local volunteers continued their efforts until the body was found.

The body was found about 100 feet off the trail where Wigen was seen walking and about 50 feet from the cabin of her mother, Karin Wigen, where she was staying, sources said.

While authorities won't confirm Wigen was murdered, the incident has some residents nervous.

''We're in shock and grieving and yes, we're scared,'' said resident Barbara Scanlan. ''You know we're a community where everybody knows everybody and no one locks their doors. Well, there's been talk of locking them now, and I guess you really just never know anybody the way you think you do.''

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