The McCarthy Massacre of 1983

Robin Barefield
12 min readJun 14, 2018

“Look, you’re already dead. If you’ll just quit fighting, I’ll make it easy for you.”

As crimson blood spread over a bright, white snowbank, survivors knew McCarthy would never be the same again.

Most Alaskans are adventurous, self-sufficient individuals who can survive on their own but are willing to lend a helping hand to others. A few people, though, come to Alaska to escape their problems or to hide from the law. Usually, they bring their problems with them.

I live in the wilderness on Kodiak Island in Alaska, where my husband and I own a remote lodge, and the story I am about to tell you reflects my worst nightmare. I live in the midst of the world’s most concentrated population of huge brown bears, but bears are not what scares me most. There are no roads or cars where I live, and no other human habitations within miles of my home, so the most frightening thing I can imagine would be to look out a window on a stormy, winter night and catch a glimpse of a human shadow running across the walk.

A few times, hunters in need of our help have knocked on our door late at night, and while we were happy to assist them, I realized there was no one we could call for help if the visitors threatened us. The Alaska State Troopers are the responsible law-enforcement agents outside the Kodiak city limits, but they are based in the town of Kodiak, 70 air miles from my home, and they can only respond during daylight hours because it is not safe to fly over this mountainous island at night. We are on our own if some psychopath forces his way into our lives.

Like the folks in the story I am about to tell you, a plane carrying our mail, supplies, and groceries stops at our dock once a week, and eerily enough, our mail plane, like the plane that serviced the doomed residents of McCarthy, is also on Tuesday. Since the plane lands and pulls up to our dock, we are sometimes the only people here to meet it, but anyone can get supplies and mail or pay for a seat fare on this plane. Occasionally, people we’ve never met show up for the plane to wait for supplies and passengers, and we invite these strangers into our home for coffee and cookies while they wait for the plane. Usually, these folks are nice and appreciate our hospitality, but once in a while, someone makes me uncomfortable, and I…

Robin Barefield

I am an Alaska wilderness mystery author and a podcaster: Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier.