crimesider

James Wells, Alaska man, accused of killing two Coast Guard employees in 2012

Richard Belisle, second from left, and James Hopkins, second from right, with Jim Wells, left, seen on July 2, 2011 on Shemya Island, Alaska.
AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, File
(CBS/AP) ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska man was arrested Friday and charged with the shootings deaths of two employees  at a Coast Guard communications station on Kodiak Island, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

James Michael Wells, 61, of Kodiak is accused in a federal murder complaint of killing Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Boatswain's Mate Richard Belisle on April 12, 2012.

"At the time of the incident, Jim Wells was actively employed as a civilian Coast Guard employee at the communications station," Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis said late Friday from Kodiak. She said she didn't know his current employment status.

Nancy Wells, the suspect's wife, said Saturday that her husband is innocent. She told The Associated Press she expects her husband "will be fully exonerated."

"I have full faith in my husband's innocence," she said. "I have no faith in the quality of the investigation."

Hopkins, 41, was an electronics technician from Vergennes, Vt. Belisle, 51, was a former chief petty officer who continued service in the Coast Guard as a civilian employee.

Another Coast Guard member found the victims shortly after the two would have arrived for work at the station, which monitors radio traffic from ships and planes. Their bodies were found in the rigger building, where antennas are repaired.

The Kodiak Island Coast Guard base is home to cutters, helicopters and rescue swimmers that aid mariners in the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean.

FBI agents immediately flew to Kodiak Island from Anchorage, about 250 miles away, to investigate the case as a double homicide.

Wells' arrest came after "an extensive investigation" led by the FBI and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, with support from the Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said in a statement.

Wells is expected to appear in court next week in Anchorage, Loeffler said.

The FBI spokesman declined to comment on a possible motive, what led investigators to focus on Wells or whether any other arrests were expected.

More on CrimesiderApril 13, 2012 - Two Coast Guard members dead in shooting at Alaska station: officials

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