By Carey Restino
The death of a Homer man on Poopdeck Trial has been ruled a homicide, the first in decades in the city limits.
Mark Matthews, 61, was found on the centrally located Homer trail near the Petro Express gas station on July 28 around 10 p.m. Medics responding to the incident pronounced Matthews dead on the scene. Matthews moved to the area last fall, police said, and was employed.
Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said few details are being released at this time because of the active investigation, but forensic testing results caused the death to be ruled a homicide. Additional pieces of evidence are being investigated, he said, and anyone with information is being encouraged to report it to Crimestoppers, where the reward for information that solves the crime has doubled to $2,000.
Robl said, however, that he does not think there is any need for Homer residents to be any more cautious than usual.
“We still feel that this man was targeted by someone that he had a relationship with, so the risk to the public is no greater than it was the day before it happened,” Robl said.
As police grapple with the investigation, Matthews’ family arrived in Homer to make funeral arrangements, and said they hope he will be remembered for his tender heart and kind spirit.
Matthews’ sister, who said she wished to remain unnamed, said Matthews had been coming to Alaska off and on for decades, first coming to Homer in the 1970s. He moved back to Homer last year because he told her he thought Anchorage was becoming too rough, she said.
Above all else, Matthews’ sister said her brother was a lover of adventure, having traveled the world during his life.
“I always told him he had gypsy in his shoes,” she said. “He loved the adventure of traveling.”
Matthews was also always an advocate of the underdog, she said, standing up for women, small children and animals.
“He was a tender heart and a hard worker,” she said. “He loved his family, his two little dogs, and his friends. He always looked at things in such a way that was loving and caring – truly – he always wanted to work and live a simple life.”
Matthews’ sister said she is encouraged by the investigation and the attention Homer Police officers are giving the case. It’s challenging not to know more details, but she said she understands that it is important to protect any details for fear they might disrupt the case.
“I know they are doing the best they can do,” she said. “That is the most consoling thing because I know they are trying so hard. I just want to respect Mark and do the right thing by him and his little dog and hopefully things will fall into place.”
She said she hopes people step forward with helpful information.
“I want people to stay vigilant and be tenacious because I just know that that’s what it’s going to take to solve this.”
Anyone with information about Matthews’ death is asked to report that information to the Homer Police Department or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-478-4258. Reports can also be made online.
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