Retired public safety commissioner killed

Police say Alaska state chamber VP was distraught, shot Glenn Godfrey, critically injured Godfrey's wife

Posted: Sunday, August 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Retired Alaska Commissioner of Public Safety Glenn Godfrey was shot and killed inside his Eagle River home early Saturday by a woman who then used the weapon to kill herself.

Anchorage police said the killer was a prominent Anchorage woman distraught over a failed relationship with Godfrey after he had reunited with his wife. The woman was identified as Karen Brand, 33, vice president of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and a former staff person with the state Legislature.

Police said Brand also shot Godfrey's wife, Patricia Godfrey, who was listed in critical but stable condition Saturday evening following 12 hours of surgery at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.

According to Anchorage police, the Godfreys apparently were shot about 12:30 a.m., some time after the two arrived.

Brand shot Glenn Godfrey first, once in the head and twice in the stomach. She then shot Patricia Godfrey as she fled up a flight of stairs. Patricia Godfrey suffered wounds in the arm, leg and stomach.

Police said Brand then turned the gun to her own head.

Patricia Godfrey, 52, managed to call 911 from a portable phone from the kitchen. Police arrived to find Glenn Godfrey, 53, and Brand dead in a room on the first floor. A .44-caliber Magnum revolver believed to have been used in the shootings was found near Brand's body.

Next-door neighbors Kurt and Deb Vause said they were on their home's deck that night at about 11 p.m. when they saw the Godfreys come home. They watched as the Godfreys checked their mail and let their two small dogs outside.

At about 11:45 p.m., the Vause's son, Jordan, came home from work. About 45 minutes later, the family heard gunshots, Kurt Vause said.

"We heard a series of shots," he said. "We weren't sure what was going on, but we knew they were close."

Kurt and Deb Vause said they heard nine shots - the first at about 12:30 a.m., a brief silence, then two rapid shots, silence, then a rapid series of five more bursts. Soon after that, they said, they heard a final, more muffled shot.

"Then there was just quiet," Deb Vause said.

More than an hour had passed between the time the Vauses say they saw the Godfreys arrive home and the sounds of gunshots. Police believe, however, that the assailant lay in wait in a closet.

"Our (911) conversations with the wife indicated the woman just came out of the closet and pretty much the attack happened right then," said Officer John Daily, one of the investigators at the scene.

Police said their investigation throughout the rest of the day suggested that Brand was disraught over the end of a brief relationship she had with Godfrey during a time when he and his wife had been separated. Neighbors around Brand's midtown Anchorage condominium also remember seeing Godfrey visiting there numerous times until recently.

The Godfreys had since reconciled.

Many who knew Brand said the shooting was completely out of character for her.

"The Karen I know was a very happy, a very vivacious, very self-assured individual. This doesn't sound like a person that I have ever known," said former state Representative Tom Brice of Brand, a volunteer on his first election campaign in 1992.

Brand's husband, Gregory Helms, was too distraught to comment but his father, Roy Helms, said there was no inkling of trouble between his son and daughter-in-law.

"We have no idea what the hell happened," he said.

The Godfrey family issued a statement released through Department of Public Safety spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

"Our parents had experienced some recent marital problems, but we were very happy to see them working through them," the family wrote. "Following Dad's retirement in July, our parents spent three wonderful weeks together on Afognak Island. They were leaving on an extended European vacation this week, to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary . . . These are the memories that will sustain us through this ordeal."

Godfrey was public safety commissioner from August 2000 to June of this year. Before that he was director of the Alaska State Troopers.

Godfrey joined the troopers in 1970 and was post commander in Bethel where he was instrumental in establishing the current Village Public Safety Officer program.

Godfrey retired after 32 years with the Department of Public Safety to accept a position with Koniag Inc., the Native regional corporation for the Kodiak area. Godfrey had been a board member since 1989 and board chairman since 1996.

An Aleut who grew up in Kodiak, Godfrey was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Alaska Federation of Natives in 2000.

Gov. Tony Knowles issued a press release Saturday afternoon expressing his and his wife Susan's sorrow.

"Personally, I have known Glenn for over 20 years and have considered him a close friend as well as a trusted advisor," Knowles said. "All Alaskans today share in the loss of one of the most widely admired and respected Alaska leaders."

The Vauses said they have been the Godfreys' neighbors since 1984. Jordan Vause often watched the Godfrey's home and took care of Patricia Godfrey's two small dogs when the couple was away, Deb Vause said.

The Godfreys have four children and 12 grandchildren.

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