Troopers still probing Alaska couple's deaths

ANCHORAGE — Almost two weeks after a young couple was found dead with their unharmed baby in a western Alaska village, state troopers said Wednesday that they still don’t know exactly what happened.

Jonathan Paul, 29, and Gina Martin, 26, died from gunshot wounds inside their Kipnuk home, according to troopers, who sent investigators to the remote community for several days. Investigators say they are still trying to determine who pulled the trigger.

Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said she can’t say whether the deaths were a murder-suicide, a double homicide or a double suicide. In an online post Friday, troopers said “no person has been identified as a participant or suspect in the deaths.”

Martin’s sister and mother found the bodies early Dec. 18 when they went to the home after not hearing from Gina Martin the previous day. The deaths shocked many in the Yupik Eskimo community of 640.

The couple’s 1-year-old daughter, Deann, has been staying with Gina Martin’s family members, who are waiting to hear more details from troopers.

“We still haven’t found out what really happened,” said Benjamin Martin, Gina Martin’s father.

Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Terry Vrabec said the case is a high priority for troopers.

“It was a very serious, tragic incident,” he said. “We want to make sure it is investigated completely.”

Without witnesses, determining who fired a weapon in such cases can be difficult, said Darrin Jones, an FBI agent based in Anchorage. The FBI is not a part of the Kipnuk investigation.

The crime-scene analysis may not give a full answer. Even a gun residue test is not a sure answer because firing a gun can leave residue over a wide area, Jones said.

“In some cases, you’re never able to say with absolutely certainty,” he said. “Sometimes you just can’t be 100 percent certain.”

Kipnuk is near the coast of the Bering Sea, about 475 miles west of Anchorage.

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