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Autopsy results for Kake homicide victim will not be released

Family plans Tuesday night memorial service for Mackenzie Howard

Posted: February 11, 2013 - 4:15pm  |  Updated: February 12, 2013 - 1:02am

Citing an ongoing investigation, the law enforcement agency investigating the death of a 13-year-old girl who was killed in Kake last week will not be releasing the preliminary findings from her autopsy.

That decision could change based on the “prerogative of the investigators,” said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Megan Peters.

But for now, “I don’t see us releasing more at this point,” she said.

The autopsy could give indications into the manner and cause of death of Mackenzie H. Howard, a Kake resident whose body was found Tuesday evening in the arctic entryway of Kake Memorial Presbyterian Church. Officials have not disclosed how she died, only saying she was the victim of an apparent homicide.

During a phone interview Monday, Peters declined to comment on whether law enforcement have identified any suspects or persons of interest in the case. No arrests have been made, she confirmed. Investigators with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Major Crimes Unit, which is handling the criminal investigation, were still in Kake on Monday to maintain a presence there, conduct interviews and collect evidence, she said.

The autopsy for Howard was completed Friday morning, but the official report and findings will not be completed for several weeks as the State Medical Examiner Office awaits lab results, according to examiner office spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

The examiner’s office is prohibited from disclosing autopsy results since that is private health information protected under health privacy laws, Wilkinson said. He noted a law enforcement officer was present during Howard’s autopsy, which is standard protocol in homicide death investigations. He said if and when there’s information to be released, it would be released through the investigating law enforcement agency.

Howard’s body was released to the Witzleben Legacy Funeral Home in Anchorage on Saturday morning, and the family said her body was to be flown to Juneau on Monday. She will later be buried in Kake, they said. Funeral arrangements are still being planned.

The family will be hosting a memorial service for Howard in Juneau Tuesday night. The family said the service is open to the public. It will be held at 6 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave.

Howard’s family said they are currently in Juneau and will remain in the community for a few more days before they travel back to Kake on the ferry with Howard.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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