Man Pleads Innocent in Cabbie Killing

[Spoilers] By DAN RICE, Staff Writer
The 21-year-old man accused of killing a taxicab driver during a robbery on June July 14 pleaded innocent during a court hearing Friday.

Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, is charged with stabbing 53-year-old Michael Belknap to death after robbing him in an Eagle Cab taxi.

He faces one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree vehicle theft as well as two counts each of tampering with physical evidence in connection with allegations that he tried to cover up the crime.

In a separate case, Beiderbeck is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary as well as one count each of second-degree theft and third-degree criminal mischief.

Those charges stem from accusations that Beiderbeck of broke into the Northland Aviation Building one week before the slaying and stole more than $500 worth of high-quality kitchen knives from a storehouse. One of the Cutco knives is the suspected murder weapon.

Beiderbeck was arraigned on all the charges in front of Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Niesje Steinkruger during a hearing Friday. He made no statements and a public defender entered not guilty pleas to all charges for him.

A trial in the murder case is scheduled to start Oct. 6. Beiderbeck is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on both cases in lieu of $260,000 bail plus a court-approved, third-party custodian. [/Spoilers]

I didn’t post this yesteday because there is an error in the article. I’ve corrected it in the spoilers text above, and sent the author an email about it.
As before, you can read the spoilers text, or follow this link to the original article.

Quick Eli Update

Both frostedlexicharm, and simpsone are temporarily computer-access challenged, so I thought it might be a good idea to provide an update for them.

I just got off the phone with lexi, we had a good chat. (Not all about Eli – we had some other catching up to do as well.) Some of the things she wanted to share are:

Simpsone is still up at camp working as the corral director. He’ll be there for another 3 weeks or so, (but will be home next weekend briefly.) He’s also reduced his daily benadryl intake from 8 pills per day to 2 or 4.

Lexi and Eli are doing well. They’re both in L.A. still, but things are looking good for returning to the Bay Area next week. (Keep the appendages of your choice crossed.)

Eli has decided that Mommy’s nostrils are ideally suited for the storage of excess cherrios.

While we were on the phone, Eli figured out which button on the remote control turns the TV off and on.

That’s about it for now.

Edited on Jul 26th 2003, 01:23 by Hooloovoo

Can’t sleep

I don’t really have anything else to say right now. My wife and I decided to go see Pirates in an attempt to get my mind of some of the things I’ve been thinking about for the last few days. I’m glad we went. I enjoyed the movie much more than I thought I would, and it did help keep me distracted for a couple of hours.

Now I’m just back to those thousands of things running through my head all at once. I’m exhausted. I really just want to get some rest, but sleep won’t come. Instead I just lay there watching the blinking red light on our caller ID box in the other room, with my head full of all these thoughts.

I’ve decided it might help get them out of my head (at least for a while) if I get them into a word document. I’ve made a start, but there’s not much structure to it, and what I’ve written so far is riddled with incomplete sentances and only marginally cohearant thoughts. The topics jump around widly and the individual trains of thought are hard to follow. At least what’s on the screen resembles my current state of mind.

I think I’ll end up posting some of this stuff, but I want to try to get it cleaned up and organized first. I can already see two or three entries at the very least jumbled together on my screen. There may be more, but I’ll really only know for sure once I get more out of my head and into the document.

Would someone please tell my internal monolouge to shut the hell up for a few hours so I can get some rest? That pesky little voice in my head isn’t listening to me, and I’m starting to get tired of listening to it.

Some Hard Decisions

Our family has decided that my sister and I should be the ones to make the decisions regarding memorial services and what to do with my father’s possessions.

I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before. There have been deaths in the family in recent years, my paternal great-grandmother and grandmother, and my maternal grandfather. But in those cases, they passed due to natural causes, and there was time to make peace, and say goodbye. And someone else had to make the hard decisions.

This is totally different. I did not get a chance to say goodbye. As hard as it was for me to see my grandmother lose her final battle with cancer, I at least got to hold her hand and tell her that I loved her. I’m never going to be able to do that with my father. I will eventually find a way to say goodbye, but I’m afraid that when I do, it’s going to be empty; there isn’t going to be the same feeling of completeness, or of resolution.

There are things that I wish I still had the opportunity to say to him, things that I wish I still had the opportunity to take back. I won’t be able to hug him ever again. I won’t be able to hear him say he’s proud of the man I’ve become ever again. I wont be able to call him someday to let him know he’s going to be a grandfather.

And it all changed so suddenly. So violently. He didn’t die because of a disease, or of old age. It wasn’t even an accident. Someone took his life. Someone stabbed him and left him on the side of the road over a few hundred dollars. I think that is what I’m having the hardest time dealing with right now.

I feel at a loss as to what to do. At a loss as to what to say to everyone who has called me in the last couple of days to offer their condolences and find out how I’m doing. I don’t have a good answer for them. I’m upset. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I don’t know how to articulate the thousands of thoughts, feelings, and memories that have been running through my head since I got the news that my father was killed. How do I explain to someone how it feels to suddenly be reminded of how much I loved my father, despite his imperfections, and to know that I’ll never be able to see him again? “I’m doing okay, considering the circumstances” doesn’t seem to cut it.

We’ve made one decision so far, but it was the easiest, and the most time sensitive. My father wanted to be cremated. My sister and I have told our aunt, (who lives in Fairbanks,) that we want to honor that wish. When the authorities are done with their investigation, she will inform them of our decision.

My sister is flying back from Chicago next week and we will be going to Redding to be with family and to try to make some more of the hard decisions.

More from the News-Miner

This time it’s an opinion piece that mentions my father.

[Spoilers] Consider the cabbies
Driving a taxi is a dangerous business, even in Fairbanks.

This week’s killing of driver Michael Belknap, the second cab driver killed in Fairbanks in recent years, brings home the vulnerability of the taxi driver. True, most fares give drivers little trouble. But Fairbanks drivers routinely deal with a seedier sort: with belligerent drunks, with people who suddenly don’t have the money to pay at their destination, with criminals.

A 1996 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear. Taxicab businesses had the nation’s highest rate of occupational homicide, at 41 per 100,000 for 1990 to 1992, up sharply from the previous study period of 1980 to 1989. The newer figure is nearly 60 times the national average. Robbery, as appears to be the case with the killing of Mr. Belknap, is often the primary motive.

The risk factors are all there: Cabbies work alone, work late, exchange money with the public, and often are called to out-of-the-way places. The operations manager for Eagle/Yellow Cab, the company for which Mr. Belknap was driving at the time of his killing, acknowledged the dangers of the business and said drivers know it, too.

The CDC has suggested some ideas for reducing homicides among cab drivers and workers in other high-risk professions. In Alaska, state law does not require any such protective measures, but the municipality of Anchorage acted a few years ago to improve taxi driver safety after three drivers were murdered in early 1998.

Anchorage municipal code requires that every cab have an emergency switch that an endangered driver can press to send a distress signal to his company’s dispatch center. In addition, each cab must have one of the following items: a Plexiglas partition between the front and rear seats, a global positioning system unit so that the company’s dispatch center knows the whereabouts of the taxi or a hidden camera that regularly takes and stores electronic images of activity inside the vehicle.

The system isn’t without its difficulties. The plastic partitions have proved too expensive, according to an Anchorage city official, since they do not transfer easily between vehicles. That’s a problem since taxis are often involved in accidents or in the shop for repairs. GPS units can be disabled by an attacker intent on a crime.

Even so, it’s something.

By comparison, Fairbanks has no such safety requirements. The city aims only to ensure the safety of the passenger by conducting background checks of those who have applied for a taxi license and by requiring annual updates of drivers.

Although requiring safety measures such as those Anchorage has implemented would be an added cost for Fairbanks taxi companies–perhaps even putting some out of business–the Fairbanks City Council should begin the discussion of imposing such requirements in this city.

City files show 485 people licensed to drive cab in Fairbanks. Mr. Belknap’s death leaves 484 who might want a safer cab. [/Spoilers]

You all know the drill by now, use the spoilers link above, or view the original article at the link below. In case you’re wondering about why I’m bothering to repost here if I’m just going to link to the original articles anyway, it’s because I want to make sure the text is still available. The News-Miner only guarantees articles will remain online for fourteen days.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

Man formally charged with taxicab stabbing

[Spoilers] By BETH IPSEN, Staff Writer
The Fairbanks man accused of killing a taxicab driver during a robbery Monday morning made his first court appearance Tuesday.
Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with the stabbing death of Eagle Cab driver Michael Belknap, 53.

Alaska State Trooper Lt. Lee Farmer said a lab technician from the state crime lab in Anchorage is going over Belknap’s cab. Troopers said Belknap picked up Beiderbeck at the Tamarac Inn Motel at 4:15 a.m. and the stabbing occurred about 45 minutes later.

“As far as to where it actually occurred, we’re not ready to put something in stone on that yet,” Farmer said.

Court records said Beiderbeck told Belknap to take him to Henderson Road. Belknap’s body was discovered nearby, on the side of a dirt road at the intersection of Dome Road and Bluebird Avenue at 7:20 a.m.

Farmer said the technician is also trying to determine if the stabbing happened at Henderson Road or where the body was found.

According to a criminal complaint, Beiderbeck called for an cab with the intention of robbing the driver. Beiderbeck had Belknap drive him out to Henderson Road, where he robbed the man. Beiderbeck told the interviewing detective he stabbed Belknap in the chest and throat when the driver put up a fight.

He then dumped Belknap’s body, drove the red, white and blue Suburban to Geist Road, where he left the vehicle, and returned to the motel room.

He reported to police at 5:50 a.m. that he had been stabbed in the right bicep during a robbery behind Northgate Square. Police records said he claimed he was jumped by two men behind the mall. Police have not been able to substantiate Beiderbeck’s story.

The Suburban was recovered near Rebecca Drive at 10 a.m., troopers said.

Fairbanks police Detective Aaron Ring said a knife suspected of being the weapon was recovered when police searched the motel room where Beiderbeck was staying.

Ring said Beiderbeck admitted to stealing the knife during a recent robbery on Fairbanks International Airport property.

Airport Police Sgt. Karen Ebanez is still investigating that incident.

Ebanez said Vector Marketing Corp., a marketing industry that sells Cutco cutlery, reported July 7 that its offices had been burglarized. A couple of doors had been forced open, but Ebanez did not know the total value of the knives stolen.

Beiderbeck is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on $250,000 bail with third-party approval.

At his initial arraignment Tuesday, Beiderbeck had only one question.

“What are the requirements for third-party custodian?” Beiderbeck asked. [/Spoilers]

Inside the spoliers tags, you will find the text of a follow-up article regarding the circumstances of my father’s death. You can use the link above to read it, or you can use the link to the original article below.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

As you can imagine I’m a little pre-occupied with this. Most (if not all) of my blog entries tor the next few weeks will probably be centered on this. They won’t all just be reprints of news articles. I’ll try to write more about what I’m thinking and feeling — I’m just not ready to do that still.

Taxicab Driver Stabbed to Death

[Spoilers] By BETH IPSEN, Staff Writer
A taxicab driver was stabbed to death during a robbery off Henderson Road, Alaska State Troopers said Monday morning.

The body of Michael Belknap, 53, was spotted on the side of the road at the intersection of Bluebird Avenue and Dome Road at 7:20 a.m. by a man on his way to work, troopers said. Fairbanks Police Department officers arrested Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, of Fairbanks Monday afternoon and charged him with stabbing Belknap to death while the two struggled during a robbery, a criminal complaint says.

Beiderbeck called dispatch at 5:50 a.m. from the Tamarac Inn Motel to report he had been stabbed during a robbery behind the Northgate Mall, police records say.

Fairbanks Police Lt. Dusty Johnson said an ambulance took Beiderbeck to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for treatment of a stab wound in his right bicep.

According to police records, Beiderbeck claims the robbery occurred near the Dumpsters, but police were unable to substantiate his story.

A criminal complaint charging Beiderbeck with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery says that while police were talking to Beiderbeck about his reported robbery, police received word from Yellow Cab that a taxi and driver were missing.

Belknap was last heard from while picking up a passenger from the motel, Johnson said.

A dispatcher at the trooper detachment was the first to suggest the two cases were linked, said trooper Lt. Lee Farmer. Dispatchers monitoring other area police departments’ radio traffic put the different reports together based on the motel room.

“This gets back to the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing,” Farmer said.

At 8:45 a.m., Fairbanks police picked up Beiderbeck from the hospital and took him to the Cushman Street police station to be interviewed by a police detective and trooper investigator, troopers said.

Beiderbeck admitted to calling the cab company with the intention of robbing the driver, the complaint said. A trooper report said Beiderbeck was picked up at 4:15 a.m. and he stabbed Belknap around 5:30 a.m.

When Belknap picked up Beiderbeck from the motel, he told Belknap to take him to Henderson Road. After he got up the courage to rob the driver, he slapped Belknap in the back of the head, the complaint says. When Belknap asked him what he was doing, Beiderbeck told him he was robbing him.

Beiderbeck said Belknap resisted and he stabbed him in the throat and chest, killing him, the complaint says. Beiderbeck then dumped Belknap’s body, ditched the car and found his way back to the motel where he called police, troopers said.

A patch of blood marked where Belknap’s body was left. Troopers combed the murder scene for evidence for about five hours Monday morning. They said the cab was recovered off Geist Road at 10 a.m. The car has been impounded pending further investigation and Belknap’s body has been sent to Anchorage for an autopsy.

Anna Nash, who Tamarac Inn owner Rose Mary Johnson said allowed Beiderbeck to stay with her for a few days, told investigators she received bloody money from Beiderbeck he claimed he got from a friend, the complaint says.

They were scheduled to be out of the room Monday, Johnson said. Instead, Fairbanks police officers moved in to search the room.

Beiderbeck, who turned 21 Saturday, has no criminal history as an adult and has had two domestic violence restraining orders filed against him–the most recent one was filed by a man July 3.

Farmer said there’s no indication that Belknap and Beiderbeck knew each other before the stabbing.

“At this time, we don’t have any reason to suspect prior contacts,” Farmer said. “But that could change and it might not change.”

Bill Northrup, operations manager at Yellow Cab, was called out Monday morning to identify Belknap’s body.

“It was not the best way to start the day,” Northrup said. “To go out and identify a co-worker and friend and downstairs neighbor.”

Northrup said Belknap was a full-time cab driver in Fairbanks for about five years, working 12-hour night shifts from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., six days a week.

“It was, literally, his last trip of the day,” Northrup said. “Mike doesn’t care about money. He probably would have given it to him.”

Belknap, who was commonly called “Mikey” by co-workers and customers alike, was well liked, Northrup said. He also was considered a professional driver who carried maps in his cab and could find just about any address.

“He’s one of the drivers that I depend on,” he said. “The dispatchers didn’t worry abut him either.”

Belknap was survived by a sister and brother-in-law living in Whittier and other family members in California, Northrup said.

A taxi driver hasn’t been murdered in Fairbanks since Maurice Smith was beaten to death in July 1998. Smith’s remains weren’t found until the next spring. Shawn Aldridge, Dale DePue and John Holloway were convicted for their roles in the death and are currently serving their sentences.

“Years ago we used to have one every 14 months,” Northrup said. “We all realize it’s a dangerous occupation. … You drop your guard a little bit and reality slaps you in the head with a two-by-four.” [/Spoilers]

I’ve decided to put the text of the story inside spoilers tags. If you wish to read it, click the link above, or follow the link below to the original article.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

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My father was killed yesterday. I just started crying again as I read that article. I’m still don’t feel ready to talk about this, but I realized that yesterday’s post would worry some people, and I wanted to let you all know what was going on. It was easier to cut and paste that article than to try and write about it myself.

Edited on Jul 15th 2003, 18:30 by Hooloovoo

Edited on Jul 15th 2003, 22:53 by Hooloovoo


I just got some very disturbing news a few minutes ago. I’m not ready to talk about it yet, but I wanted to let you all know that I may not be back here for a while.

I’m not sure how long “a while” is, but I will be back. This is something I will need to talk about.

For those that know my other forms of contact, please give me a few days before you try to call to find out what’s going on. I doubt you’d find me very coherent even if you did contact me sooner.

I’ll be back, but for now I need some time. I’m sorry this is so cryptic, I don’t think I could manage any more…


(before you start to worry too much, Jenny and I are okay, we just got some very bad news today.)