The body of 13 year old Mackenzie H. Howard was discovered late Tuesday evening, Feb. 5 in the entrance of the Memorial Presbyterian Church by community members.
“We are investigating this as a homicide,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Megan Peters said. “There are a lot of rumors and speculation going around and we have to weed through all of them to get to the truth.”
Howard's body was sent to Anchorage for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
“The autopsy was completed Friday and we have received preliminary results,” Peters said. “But we are unable to release any further information to the public because this is an ongoing investigation.”
Alaska State Troopers are still in Kake following leads along with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and a team from the State Crime Detection Laboratory.
The small village of Kake had seen a large number of people arrive for the funeral of Clarence Jackson.
“Many people have left since this has happened,” Peters said. “We are trying to get in touch with many of those now.”
Family members identified the body of young Howard Thursday.
“This crime has affected, not only the local communities, but the entire state,” Peters said. “Something like this causes a lot of ripples and we are investigating this thoroughly.”
According to Peters, no arrests have been made at this time but they are working hard to bring this case to a close.
People across the state gathered in candlelight vigils to honor Howard Friday evening and Petersburg would not be left out of this event.
“This tragedy has affected people far beyond Southeast Alaska,” Petersburg’s Salvation Army Lt. Caleb Fankhauser said. “This very evening there are other groups just like this meeting. As we light candles here tonight, there are candles being lit around the world.”
Mackenzie was the daughter of Marla and Kip Howard and had three brothers and five sisters and according to Howard's father she wanted to be a basketball player for Baylor University.
The Howard family is very well known in the village of 600 residents about 40 miles northwest of Petersburg and 95 miles southwest of Juneau.
Kip Howard is the fire chief for Kake and captains the City's Search and Rescue Boat.
Mr. Howard says that Kake is a very close community and the whole community is a family to him and his family.
“The hearts of these communities are broken for this family,” Fankhauser stated. “This kind of crime causes a community to think about family and those close and our thoughts go out to that family and the entire community of Kake.”