North Pole man charged with murder

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) A North Pole man who said he discovered a body Sunday at a Fairbanks transient camp has been charged with second-degree murder.

Bert P. Coates, 26, was arraigned Monday.

The dead man has not been identified. He was found on Fort Wainwright land near the first overpass on the Richardson Highway heading south out of Fairbanks.

Police said the victim was an Alaska Native, 5-feet-6-inches tall, about 140 pounds and 35-45 years old.

Detective Randy Coffey said Coates reported the body to police at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Charging documents say that Coates told police that the man was his ''Uncle George.''

''After investigators and officers came over and looked at the scene, they became suspicious of what they saw,'' Coffey said. The body was face down but it appeared the body had been moved, he said.

Coates told police that he had been drinking with the man, spent the night in a motel, and then returned to the camp and found the man's body. Police said they checked with the motel named by Coates and found no record he had stayed there.

Coates then told police he had spent the night with the man at the camp and that the man had touched him inappropriately while he slept. He said he tried to talk to the man, but he walked away. Coates told police he knocked the man down, stomped on his head three or four times and then sat on his face, police said.

Coates told police he left, went drinking at some bars, returned to camp and found the man dead.

The body has been sent to the state crime lab for identification and autopsy.

''Coates gave us a name but we couldn't verify that,'' Coffey said. ''There was no identification on the body.''

Coates has lived off and on with Monta Faye Lane since the Office of Public Advocacy placed him with her when he was 19 years old. Layne runs an assisted living home in North Pole.

''He is such a troubled child. He is 26 years old but he is still a child,'' Lane told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

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