Harmon indicted in Tenakee killing

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2004

James Harmon will be asked to enter a plea Wednesday to charges that he raped and killed Margaret "Maggie" Wigen in Tenakee Springs last year.

A grand jury on Friday found probable cause to indict Harmon on seven felony counts - two more than he was charged with at his arrest in Juneau eight days earlier. Both new charges relate to the same allegations, but would require less evidence to prove.

Harmon is being held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $750,000 cash bail, set in Juneau District Court on May 21. He will be asked to enter a plea on the charges at his Superior Court arraignment scheduled for Wednesday before Judge Larry Weeks.

The indictment alleges the original charges - first-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault, second-degree theft and two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault.

It adds a count of second-degree murder in Wigen's death and a charge of attempted first-degree sexual assault leading up to her death. Wigen, 19, was found buried near her cabin in Tenakee Springs on April 1, 2003. She had been there since the previous fall, and returned on March 22 after visiting her mother in Juneau, according to court records.

Wigen's disappearance the week before her body was found mobilized a search that brought Alaska State Troopers to the Chichagof Island community of about 100 residents.

Although the troopers suspended their search at the end of the weekend, people in the community kept looking for Wigen.

Harmon left Tenakee Springs on an Alaska Marine Highway ferry before the body was found by residents. Court records show troopers considered him a suspect early in the investigation.

In a search warrant served on Harmon in Juneau three days after Wigen's body was found, authorities seized cash and receipts that the state alleges shows he took money from Wigen.

The indictment alleges the murder occurred between the time she returned to Tenakee Springs for the last time and the discovery of her body. The first sexual assault and attempted sexual assault charges cover the same time frame.

Two charges of attempted sexual assault stem from events of Jan. 1, 2003, at Wigen's cabin. The complaint alleges Harmon attempted to sexually assault Wigen and another woman after a New Year's Eve party.

The grand jury session that resulted in the indictment was held behind closed doors. A public preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Friday afternoon to determine if there was probable cause to send the case to Superior Court became unnecessary.

Court records show that witnesses examined by the grand jury included the lead investigator on the case for the state troopers and the trooper who worked undercover to gain allegedly incriminating information from Harmon.

Others called before the grand jury include several residents of Tenakee Springs, Wigen's mother, Harmon's parents and other members of the defendant's family.

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