[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.
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