An appeal on social media last month by Homer Police looking to identify a man in a photo alleged to have broken into a Kachemak Bay beach cabin quickly led to the arrest of a suspect.
In charging documents, Troy Dylan Holzheimer, 42, was charged with first-degree burglary, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Alaska State Troopers said he stayed at a cabin without the permission of the property owners and that he damaged property there.
On April 27, the Homer Police department posted on its Facebook page a photo of a man taken by family of the cabin owner when they found him in their father’s cabin. That day, people sent tips to Homer Police identifying the man in the photo as Holzheimer.
“Daaaaang Super Sleuths,” Lt. Ryan Browning wrote on the police Facebook page. “3 hours and we know who he is. Thank you! Still need to talk to him so if you should see him please call us or the Alaska State Troopers. You all get your investigation badges. Solid work.”
Police subsequently got another call that Holzheimer was in Homer, and police arrested him at about 1:30 p.m. April 28 at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer.
According to a criminal complaint by Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Daniel Cox, on April 26 the daughter of the property owner called troopers to say that on April 25 she found someone living in the upper cabin who was not supposed to be there. The cabin is part of a group of cabins and outbuildings about a half-mile east of Diamond Creek and below Bluff Point accessible only by the beach or water. The cabins are just outside of Homer city limits and in the trooper patrol area. The woman said the cabins also had been damaged.
In an interview with Trooper Justin Hilario, the woman said she told the man to leave, but he only went down the beach a little further away from the cabins and did not leave the area. The woman took a photo of the man coming down the stairs in the cabin. She said the man gave a name of “Dylan” and told him a man named “Roger” had said he could stay at the cabins.
In a follow-up investigation, Trooper Peter Heid walked to the cabins and talked to other family members there. In the complaint, Cox wrote that Heid saw locks on the buildings had been damaged, as had a window, a shed door and a stereo — about $500 in damage.
Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said police decided to help out troopers by posting the photo on its Facebook page.
“It just seems like he’s (the suspect) operating in our area and just as likely to come into Homer,” Robl said. “We had a good picture of him, so we thought, what the heck. So we posted it and, as you know, it bore fruit.”
Robl said Browning writes many of the Homer Police Facebook posts.
“Looking for some help here for our Alaska State Trooper friends,” Browning wrote in the original Facebook post. “… If you see this man or know who he is, we and the Anchor Point Troopers would sure like a phone call so we can introduce ourselves to him.”
On April 28, Cox interviewed Holzheimer at the Homer Jail. In charging documents, Cox said Holzheimer agreed to talk to him. Holzheimer told Cox he is homeless and worked his way down from Anchorage because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He said he started walking the beach near Ninilchik and eventually came upon the Diamond Creek area cabins sometime in late March or early April.
In the charging documents, Holzheimer told Cox that a man named Roger was at the cabins and had a fire going. He invited Holzheimer inside to get warm. Roger stayed there another three days and then headed back to Homer and never returned. Holzheimer said he cleaned up the cabin because it was in disarray. He denied going into other cabins but said he did go into a greenhouse to trim back a rose bush. Holzeheimer told Cox he stayed there until the cabin owner’s family found him, took his photo and told him to leave.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Cox said troopers are still investigating Holzheimer’s claim that another person was at the cabin.
“At this point we have not identified anybody additionally other than this person (Holzheimer),” Cox said.
Under Alaska law, people stranded in the wilderness or who need refuge can claim a necessity defense if they break into a cabin to warm up or get shelter.
“At this point (with) the information we have, those requirements were not met for him to claim necessity,” Cox said.
At an arraignment on April 29 in Homer Superior Court with Judge Bride Seifert, Holzheimer pleaded not guilty and was appointed a public defender. Holzheimer was released on bail of a $500 cash appearance bond and a $500 performance bond. He was ordered not to have contact with the cabin owners and not to return to their cabin.
Reach Michael Armstrong at email@example.com.