The North Pole Murders

Robin Barefield
14 min readDec 31, 2018

Before CODIS, the FBI’s DNA index system, and before VICAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, states had no systematic method of sharing evidence from violent crime scenes with each other. No national database existed, making it difficult for investigators to track vicious predators who crossed state lines.

After a string of closely-spaced murders of young women near Fairbanks in the late 1970s and early 80s, the abductions and murders stopped. Troopers believed the killer had moved somewhere else, but they had no database to track the predator’s movements beyond Alaska. Only the deductive reasoning and the hard work of seasoned investigators traced the monster four thousand miles to his new home and hunting grounds.

North Pole

The North Pole is where Santa and Mrs. Claus live and where busy elves build toys for good girls and boys around the world, or so the legend goes. The city of North Pole, Alaska is 1700 miles (2700 km) south of the geological North Pole, but the townsfolk take full advantage of the town’s moniker. Many of the streets have holiday names, and stores sell Christmas-themed items year-round. The town’s biggest attraction is a large gift shop named Santa Claus House, which boasts the world’s largest fiberglass statue of Santa. North Pole sits south of Fairbanks and stretches between Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base and between the Cheena and Tanana Rivers. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, murder shattered the innocence of the town Santa Claus calls home.

Glinda Sodemann

Nineteen-year-old Glinda Sodemann vanished from her home in North Pole on August 29, 1979. Glinda, a newlywed, was the daughter of an Alaska State Trooper. Glinda and her husband had a small baby, and according to her husband, when he arrived home on August 29, the baby was in the crib, but Glinda had disappeared. By all accounts, Glinda was happy and had no reason to run away from her home, but investigators found no evidence to suggest foul play.

The following October, Glinda’s decomposed body was found in a gravel pit near Moose Creek on the Richardson Highway, not far from Eielson Air Force Base and twenty-two miles south of Fairbanks. Glinda had been shot in the face, and troopers found a .38 caliber pistol cartridge near her body. The medical…



Robin Barefield

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