One year later: Unsolved murder top priority for Homer police

A year after someone killed a Homer man near a popular downtown trail, Homer’s only unsolved murder remains a priority for Homer Police, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said Tuesday. 

Two people walking on the Poopdeck Trail between Hazel Avenue and Pioneer Avenue found the body of Mark Matthews, 61, about 10:15 p.m. July 28, 2013. After an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner, police ruled his death a homicide.

“I would like to assure folks we’re still actively working on this case,” Robl said. “We haven’t set it aside. It’s front and center for investigation.”

A $10,000 reward remains available for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Matthews’ death.

Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns is the lead investigator, Robl said. At the time of his death, Matthews lived with a friend in an apartment above the former Homer Cleaning Center. He also had lived in a tent in the Town Center, an undeveloped wooded area behind the cleaning center east of Main Street and south of Pioneer Avenue. The city plans to clear that area of brush and trim large trees.

“He went between homelessness and temporary living quarters,” Robl said.

Matthews also had a job from time to time, he said. He moved to Homer sometime in the fall of 2012. Police had no contact with Matthews while he lived in Homer.

According to his obituary, Matthews was born Nov. 19, 1951, in Seattle and grew up in Washington. He lived in Alaska most of his adult life — in Ketchikan, Anchorage, Anchor Point and Homer — and worked as a carpenter. His family called him “a man with a tender heart for his family, friends and his dogs.”

Police have kept in contact with Matthews’ family and let them know they’re still investigating, Robl said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, police haven’t released many details about the circumstances of Matthews’ murder, including the probable means of death. Robl said police have interviewed dozens of people in their investigation and continue to talk to people.

“Basically, it’s a complicated case and we’re continuing to work it,” Robl said.

Robl said he hopes publicity about Matthews’ murder might jog the memories of those who knew him or his activities at the time. People might have heard something in confidence and be reluctant to talk.

“We’re looking for some good solid information like that,” Robl said. “We’d also be interested in hearing from anyone who saw something that night, who was walking around in that area during the early evening hours. A little piece of information like that might lead to tying together something we already know.”

Anyone with information in the case can call Homer Police at 235-3150 or Crimestoppers at 800-478-4258.

Robl said Homer Police aren’t giving up on Matthews’ murder case.

“I’ve got a picture of Mark Matthews on my desk,” Robl said. “It’s going to stay there until this is solved.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at