Knik Nicoli murders 2 in 1917
THE MURDER OF TALKEETNA STEPAN/STEPHAN

A true story taken from the
1917 U. S. District Court Records
Territory of Alaska - 3rd Division
Manslaughter case # 644
U.S. America vs. Knik Nicoli

by
coleen_mielke@hotmail.com

2017


In the spring of 1917, Talkeetna Stephan and his wife Nagolia (of Knik), along with Stephan's 11 year old son Bob and Nagolia's 16 year old daughter Inga, were headed to their hunting camp at Talkeetna Lake. A friend named Knik Nicoli went with them; he was the step-son of Knik store merchant, George W. Palmer.

In route to Talkeetna Lake, the group stopped at Old Chief Nicoli's camp, a mile or so below Talkeetna. Nagolia's first husband, Tom Stephan, was part of this Tribe. They spent about a week there before continuing the final 90 miles to Talkeetna Lake.

Once at Talkeetna Lake, the group set up camp with a single tent.
Stephan and Nicoli decided to make some "hooch" (as court records called it), and after it had fermented for about 3 days, they started drinking it.

By early evening, Stephan and Nicoli started arguing with each other and Stephan decided to leave the tent. As he stood up, he knocked the ridge pole down which hit Nicoli on the head. Nicoli was furious and crawled out from under the tent. He picked up a 4' long club of wood and began repeatedly hitting Stephan. When Nagolia stood up and tried to lift the tent, Nicholi began clubbing her as well. After repeatedly bludgeoning the Stephan's, they lay motionless and Nicoli laid down to rest.


The next morning, Nicoli had sobered up. He pulled the tent off of his friends and found Stephan dead with his face smashed and bloodied. Nagolia sat next to her husband crying; her head was bloody and her arm was broken. Nicoli washed Stephan's bloody face and summarily started digging a grave with the help of the dead mans 11 year old son Bob.

Nagolia called her daughter over and told her that if she and Bob went back to Knik that they would be ok there, then she told her, wherever you decide to go, make sure you tell the truth about what happened here because I am too injured to go with you.

Inga  found it hard to stay next to her mother because she was sitting right next to a dead body. No doubt it brought back memories of seeing her own father (Tom Stephan) shot to death 3 years earlier, by Jim Nikita. So, Inga sat about 18' away, next to the campfire.

As Nicoli and young Bob continued to dig Stephan's grave, they heard a gunshot. Nagolia had shot herself with her husbands .22 rifle, she died a short time later. The children lost both parents that day.

Nicoli and Bob dug a 4' hole and lined it with part of the tent cloth. All three of them carried the bodies to the grave and laid them side by side on the cloth. On top of the bodies, they laid wooden poles, then another layer of tent cloth; covering it all with about 3' of dirt. After the Stephan's were buried, Nicoli burned everything that was inside of the tent, including bloody clothes, belongings, the rest of the tent itself and the club he had beaten the Stephan's with.

Nicoli and the children left for Talkeetna. After spending two days there, Nicoli told Inga and Bob to go to Eric Larson's cabin on Fish Creek (4 miles away). This gave him time to escape the area before authorities came looking for him. At Fish Creek, Inga and Bob told Mr. Larson about the death of their parents and he immediately went to Talkeetna to report it to U.S. Marshal Healy. The Marshal, along with Bob Stephan, a packer named G.L. Kennedy and an Indian guide named Pedro, left Talkeetna and went back to Talkeetna Lake (90 miles NE) to check out the scene of the crime.

At the Stephan's campsite, the Marshal found a 6' fire pit where Nicoli had burned the evidence; in the center of the ashes, he found Stephan's watch; at the edge of the fire pit was Nagolia's dress and sewing basket as well as Stephan's field glasses and moccasins. Eighteen feet from the pit, just as Inga had described, the Marshal found the Stephan's grave, which he dug up. Decomposition had begun, so he just looked at their faces, for identification, and reburied them in the same grave. He estimated they had been dead almost a month.

Knik Nicoli was captured near Susitna Station on 7/31/1917 and taken back to Talkeetna.
The official wording of the charge against him was:  "Knik Nicoli, on the 10th of June 1917, near Talkeetna Lake, willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and voluntarily killed Talkeetna Stephan, by beating and striking him, violently and repeatedly with a certain large club." 
Nicoli was taken to the Federal Jail in Valdez to stand trial.

Sixteen year old Inga Stephan and her 11 year old brother, Bob, were witnesses at the trial. Inga appeared mature beyond her years, having endured the murder of her father, Tom Stephan, the murder of her step-father Talkeetna Stephan and the suicide of her mother Nagolia; all within a three year period.

Bob Stephan testified in court with the help of an interpreter, since he spoke no English. He said that he ran outside of the tent when the ridge pole fell down because he was afraid and the adults were trying to "fight with hooch all around". He said that once he was outside, he watched Nicoli club his parents who were still under the tent. After recounting the story, the young boy became afraid and would not answer further questions.

Knik Nicoli was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in Federal Jail on 11/2/1917.

Actual court testimony for Knik Nicoli's
1917 manslaughter trial is

at the bottom of this page in BLUE




Knik Nicoli served his time in prison and was released in late 1920; by 1923 he was living in a cabin at 8th and B Street, in Anchorage, and was well known in the area for being violent while drinking.

On 1/2/1924, Nicoli's roommate, Polly Rufe, told police that he was "crazy drunk" and terrorizing her, so Anchorage Police Chief, Harry Kavanaugh and his deputy Charlie Watson set out to arrest him.

Nicoli did not answer the door when the police chief knocked, so Kavanaugh went to the rear of the building and climbed a ladder to the loft area where Nicoli was known to sleep. After calling out Nicoli's name, a shot was fired from inside the cabin and Kavanaugh yelled to his deputy, "Look out Charlie, he's got a gun", then took off running towards 8th Street in search of cover.

Deputy Watson ran to the front of the cabin just in time to see Nicoli shoot at Kavanaugh twice with a .30-30 Winchester rifle; one bullet hit Kavanaugh in the back; passing through his body and exiting his stomach.

With the police chief mortally wounded, Charlie waited for a safe shot at Nicoli through the window on the east side of the cabin. When there was no sight of Nicoli, Charlie opened the front door and immediately found himself face to face with Nicoli holding a rifle; the deputy instinctively fired two shots with his revolver, killing Nicoli instantly.

Chief Kavanaugh was rushed to the Anchorage Railroad Hospital and treated by Harry Abercrombie, Dr. C.H. Turpin and Dr. J.H. Romig, but he died about 16 hours after surgery.

On 1/5/1924, Chief Harry Clinch Kavanaugh's casket was accompanied to the railroad station by his wife Stella, Mayor Conroy of Anchorage, the City Council members, and members of the Odd Fellows Lodge. Anchorage citizens lined the route from the city morgue to the train depot, removing their hats (in respect) as the 44 year old officers coffin passed by. Kavanaugh's body was sent to San Pedro, California for burial; he had only been an Anchorage police officer for 8 months.

In contrast, Knik Nicoli, the man who murdered Talkeetna Stephan AND Chief Kavanaugh, was laid to rest in an Anchorage Cemetery, the same day as Kavanaugh's funeral procession. The only people in attendance for Nicoli's burial were cemetery employees; he had no funeral and there was/is no gravestone.






NOTE:  Court records spell the last name Stepan;
other local sources spell it Stephan.




Actual Case Testimony



District Court Territory of Alaska Third Division  
Case 644  United States of America vs. Knik Nicoli
Indictment: Manslaughter

Witnesses Before the Grand Jury:

M. H. Healy
Inga Stepan
Bob Stepan
G. L. Kennedy
Joe Loco

CRIMINAL DOCKET NO. 402                7/31/1917
    Complaint made in writing and sworn to by Inga Stepan accusing Knik
              Nicoli of murder by striking and killing Talkeetna Stepan with a club.

Preliminary hearing in the matter of the United States of America versus Knik Nicoli and before M. J. Conroy, U.S. Commissioner at Anchorage, Alaska 7/31/1917. Examination of witnesses conducted by Wm. A. Munly, Asst. U.S. Attorney. Defendant Knik Nicoli was present in person and by his attorney, Wm. H. Rager Esq.


QUESTIONS BY WM. A. MUNLY:


Q.     What is your name?
A.     M. H. Healy.
Q.     What is your occupation?
A.     Deputy U.S. Marshal at Talkeetna, Alaska.
Q.     How long have you held that position?
A.     A little over a year.
Q.     State whether you were to Talkeetna Lake recently.
A.     Yes I was.
Q.     What did you see there and what was the purposes of your visit there?
A.     To investigate the death of Talkeetna Stepan
Q.     State to the court what you discovered.
A.     After we arrived at the camp there we found the dead bodies of a couple of persons a man and a woman.
Q.     How did you find them?
A.     We removed the dirt out of the grave and found the bodies. The two bodies were
       buried in this grave there which was about three feet deep. The bodies were side by side in the grave.
Q.     How far is that place from Talkeetna?
A.     It is about 90 miles north east of Talkeetna.
Q.     State how the bodies were in the grave.
A.     They were lying side by side in the grave, but before we reached the bodies
       there was a canvas over the bodies; there were poles over the bodies, then this
       canvas over the poles and then dirt over the canvas. The grave was about four
       feet deep, three feed of dirt.
Q.     Who were those persons you saw in the grave?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan was one and Nagolia Stepan his wife, the other.

Q.     Did you know these people before you saw them there?
A.     I did.
Q.     Did you recognize them?
A.     Yes.
Q.     How long have you known them Mr. Healy?
A.     Close onto 8 or 9 months.
Q.     What was the condition of the bodies you found?
A.     The body of the woman, her face was bruised, her nose appeared to be flattened
       on her face, from what cause I do not know and the mans forehead, blood was
       oozing out of his forehead, both sides of face bloody, covered with blood.
Q.     What time did you reach there?
A.     We reached there on the 14th day of July.
Q.     What was the condition of the bodies, as to whether or not decomposition had
       set in?
A.     The smell was very bad but their faces appeared to be all right, the contour of their faces.
Q.     What was your opinion about the time they must be dead?
A.     From the condition of the bodies, the fact that decomposition had set in, and
       the odor from the bodies was strong, I imagine they must be dead a month or
       six weeks.
Q.     Did you get any articles there?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Have you them here?
A.     I have. These articles were picked up at the camp there, some wearing apparel
       and some other stuff. This is a woman's waist found around near the fire, at the edge of the fire.
Q.     How far from the bodies in the grave?
A.     About 18 feet. There was evidence of a camp there and these articles were picked
       up there. This is a woman's dress found in the same place. This watch was found in the bed of the fire,           right in the
  center of the fire. It is a cheap watch. All of this other stuff was found on the edge of        the fire; these field glasses and the thermos bottle were found on the edge of the fire, this pair of            moccasins found in the same place.
Q.     You recognized the persons you found in the grave?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     Anything further you wish to state?
A.     The tent where the fight occurred was burnt and all the belongings in that tent
       where the fight occurred was burnt and all the belongings in that tent at the
       time of the disturbance. This stuff is all from the edge where this fire was.
Q.     Did you arrest the defendant Knik Nicoli?
A.     No sir.
 

QUESTIONS BY W. H. RAGER Esq.

Q.     How large a space did the remains of that fire cover?

A.     The diameter was probably between 5 and 6 feet.
Q.     When you saw these glasses found at the edge of the fire, in what relative
       position were they to the fire?
A.     Right at the very edge where the fire was.
Q.     When did you first get notice of, when were you first notified of this occurrence?
A.     We were notified some time about the 26th or 28th of June.
Q.     When did you leave Talkeetna for Talkeetna Lake?
A.     On the 14th. To the best of my remembrance on the day of the 14th of July.
Q.     What were the climatic conditions prevailing at the time?
A.     Bad.
Q.     In what respect?
A.     Lots of rain, very wet.
Q.     Who, if anybody, was with you on this trip?
A.     Mr. Kennedy here, this boy Bob Stepan and a guide by the name of Pedro.
Q.     I will ask you Mr. Healy if these articles produced here in all the evidence you
       have in the matter, other than the dead bodies?
A.     It is.
Q.     You say you knew these persons for eight or nine months, is that correct?
A.     Yes.
Q.     What means did you have of knowing them?
A.     I have seen them go through the town of Talkeetna once or twice, I have met them
       down Willow Creek here last spring, some time along in February, they were camped
       down at Willow Creek, I was in their camp at that time, going and coming. They
       came to Talkeetna later, sometime towards spring, and I also met them there at
       at Nicoli's camp. They were camped there for several days.
Q.     As I understand this Talkeetna Stepan does not live in Talkeetna?
A.     Not as far as I know.
Q.     You met him when you visited in the Willow Creek District?
A.     I met him down there while I was on a business trip.
Q.     Then you met him again when Talkeetna Stepan was going through Talkeetna?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Did you see Talkeetna Stepan leave Talkeetna for this trip?
A.     I did. It appears before he left Talkeetna he made some hooch at old Nicoli's camp and Knik Nicoli was        with him. This camp is about a mile below Talkeetna. I was
       down there in the forenoon about 11 o'clock, everything was very quiet and I
       started to come back up home and I heard an awful racket down there, so I went
       back down there to the camp and everything was in an uproar, they were hollering
       and this Stepan, he was trying to beat his wife, he was under the influence of
       this hooch that they made in old Nicoli's camp. The next morning they left
       Nicoli's camp and went up the river. Old Nicoli is Chief there and we call him Nicoli.
Q.     Is there a Nicoli up there at Talkeetna?
A.     Yes, an old man.
Q.     How many graves were there?
A.     Just one grave.
Q.     Containing two bodies?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     How were they buried?
A.     Lying side by side.
Q.     When did you uncover those bodies?
A.     That was on the 14th day of July.
Q.     Who was with you at the time you uncovered them?
A.     Mr. Kennedy here.
Q.     You say decomposition had set in?
A.     Yes some, from the stench of the bodies.
Q.     What did you do with the bodies after you found them?
A.     We pulled the covering off their faces and we looked at them so we could recognize them.
Q.     Do I understand you that you permitted those bodies to remain in that grave?
A.     Yes sir. We reburied, we refilled that grave.
Q.     The bodies were permitted to remain in the same position as you found them?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     You did not handle the bodies?
A.     Only just to look at them.
Q.     Who notified you in regard to this disturbance?
A.     Inga told Mr. Larson about it, and he came down to Talkeetna and notified me of it.
Q.     About those two Indians that accompanied you, this little boy and the other
       Indian person, did they see the bodies in the grave?
A.     They would not go over to the grave at all.
Q.     So they did not examine the bodies at the time you did?
A.     No, you could not get them to go near the grave.


G. L. KENNEDY WAS SWORN AND TESTIFIED AS FOLLOWS:


Q.     What is your name?
A.     G. L. Kennedy
Q.     Where do you live?
A.     Talkeetna.
Q.     Did you accompany Mr. Healy on his trip to Talkeetna Lake about the early part of this month?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     Were you there at the uncovering of the grave at that place?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     Tell what you saw there.
A.     We uncovered it, pulled back the canvas and looked at the faces.
Q.     What was the condition of the faces?
A.     What I saw, the woman's face looked to have a crease down through her nose, bloody face.
Q.     What about his face?
A.     Blood apparently oozing from his hair down on his forehead.
Q.     What was the condition of the bodies?
A.     Smelled too strong for me to monkey around there very much.
Q.     There were two bodies there?
A.     Yes, apparently a man and a woman. One had whiskers, the other did not. They
       were lying side by side in the grave.
Q.     You did not know these people?
A.     No sir.


QUESTIONS BY W. H. RAGER Esq.

Q.     What is your business?
A.     Packer.
Q.     Did you accompany Mr. Healy from Talkeetna to the Lake and return?
A.     Yes. I came as far as Indian River with them on the return and from Indian River.
       I came alone with the horses.
Q.     You say those bodies were decomposed?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     Were the faces marked?
A.     Yes, there was a crease or big mark down the woman's face and her face seemed
       very much bloody all over. I only looked for an instant at their faces. The other
       person had blood on its forehead.
Q.     In other words you simply glanced at the faces and they were covered with blood?
A.     That is all.
Q.     The other person you say had blood on its forehead? Was it just an accumulation of blood there?
A.     It just seemed to be more or less bloody.
Q.     Was it bloody all over the face?
A.     The face looked very perfect, the mans face.
Q.     After you made an examination you simply covered the grave with this canvas and dirt?
A.     Yes sir.
Q.     You never handled the bodies?
A.     No.



INGA STEPAN WAS SWORN AND TESTIFIED AS FOLLOWS:



QUESTIONED BY WM. A. MUNLY:

Q.     What is your name?
A.     Inga Stepan.
Q.     Where is your home?
A.     Knik.
Q.     How old are you?
A.     Sixteen years I think.
Q.     Did you know Talkeetna Stepan when he was alive?
A.     Yes.
Q.     And Nagolia Stepan?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Who was Nagolia Stepan?
A.     My mother.
Q.     Who was Talkeetna Stepan?
A.     My step-father.
Q.     Who is your father?
A.     Tom Stepan.
Q.     Where did you live last winter, Inga?
A.     At Knik last winter.
Q.     When did you leave Knik?
A.     I do not know what month we left. We left in the winter, the latter part of winter or in the early spring.
Q.     Where did you go?
A.     To Talkeetna.
Q.     And then where did you go from Talkeetna?
A.     To Talkeetna Lake.
Q.     Who was with you?
A.     Bob and I, my mother, Talkeetna Stepan and Knik Nicoli.
Q.     This boy here is Bob?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Do you remember when you got there to the lake?
A.     I do not know.
Q.     Did you have a camp at Talkeetna Lake?
A.     Yes.
Q.     How did you live there?
A.     We lived in a tent there.
Q.     How long did you stay up there, until about what time?
A.     Until about a month ago.
Q.     Did you see any trouble up there between Knik Nicoli and Talkeetna Stepan your step-father?
A.     Yes. We stayed there at the lake and Talkeetna Stepan made a barrel of hooch and
       Knik Nicoli made a barrel of hooch and they had it in the barrel for three days
       and after that they drank it and they all got crazy that night, Knik Nicoli was
       crazy and the old woman, my mother, was crazy and it was just getting dark, must
       be about eight o'clock at night when they had the fight and they all sat in the
       tent talking and the old man, Talkeetna Stepan, got up and tried to go outside of
       the tent and he knocked the ridge pole down on Knik Nicoli's face and Knik Nicoli
       ran out and got a stick and kept hitting Talkeetna Stepan through the tent. The
       tent, when it fell down, covered up the old woman and Talkeetna Stepan. Me and Bob
       were just a little ways away when they were fighting there. It was dark a little
       but we could see them.
Q.     What kind of a stick did Knik Nicoli hit him with?
A.     It was a stick about four feet long and about 2 1/2" round.
Q.     What did Talkeetna Stepan do?
A.     He fell down. Nagolia and him were both in the tent.
Q.     Did he talk after that when he hit him?
A.     He hit him pretty bad.
Q.     How many times did he hit him?
A.     We cannot hardly know but he hit him lots of times.
Q.     Then what did they do?
A.     They was in the tent when he hit them, Nagolia and Talkeetna Stepan, under the
       tent at the time and my mother tried to lift up the tent and at that time he hit
       my mother, he hit her in the back of the head and arms, her arm was broken and
       there was blood on the back of her hair.
Q.     What did they do with Talkeetna Stepan?
A.     Knik Nicoli got well the next morning and he took the tent off and looked at him
       and he went down after water to wash the old mans face off, and my mother was
       sitting close to the old man and crying. We went there but did not go close to the body.
Q.     What did your mother do then?
A.     She sat down there and she turned around to me and she talked to me and said I
       cannot go along with you to Knik, my head is sore and my hand is sore.
Q.     What did she tell you to go to Knik for?
A.     If I would go to Knik I would be all right.
Q.     What became of your mother?
A.     She sat down there crying and Knik Nicoli dug up the grave and my mother took
       the .22 rifle and shot herself. Me and the boy Bob staid by the fire and when she
       she shot herself she died a little after.
Q.     What did you do then?
A.     We helped Knik Nicoli to take the bodies to the grave.
Q.     How many feet down was the grave dug?
A.     It must be about 3 or 4 feet.
Q.     Did you put anything on top of the bodies?
A.     We put canvas on the bottom and put it around the top of them and put them down
       side by side, both in one grave and covered it with dirt.
Q.     Did you see those things here that were picked up at the camp there?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Do you recognize them?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Whose dress is that?
A.     That is my mothers dress.
Q.     And this box?
A.     That is my mothers sewing box.
Q.     Whose glasses are those?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan's glasses.
Q.     And this bottle?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan's bottle.
Q.     Whose moccasins are those?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan's moccasins.
Q.     Whose watch is this?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan's watch.
Q.     What did you do then?
A.     Knik Nicoli, I and Bob came back to Talkeetna and we staid at Talkeetna 2 days and
       Knik Nicoli told us to go to Fish Creek where Larson is and we went to Larson's
       at Fish Creek and we told Larson what happened and he came down and told Mr.Healy.
Q.     Did Knik Nicoli tell you where he was going?
A.     He did not tell us where he was going.


QUESTIONS BY W. H. RAGER Esq.

Q.     You say you are 16 years old, have you ever been to school?
A.     I have never been to school. Mrs. Brown at Knik, she teached me lots of things.
Q.     Who were in your party that went to Talkeetna Lake?
A.     Knik Nicoli, Talkeetna Stepan, Bob, me and Nagolia.
Q.     Did you all start out from Knik together?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Did you stop at Talkeetna on your way up?
A.     Yes.
Q.     How long did you stay there at Talkeetna?
A.     I do not know, I think about a week.
Q.     Were all five of you together there?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Did you have trouble there?
A.     They had trouble but I did not know anything about it.
Q.     Then you left Talkeetna and went up to Talkeetna Lake, the same five?
A.     Yes.
Q.     And that was about the month of June, about a month ago?
A.     Yes.
Q.     How many tents did you have in that party?
A.     We had only one tent. All lived in one tent. I did not live in it.
Q.     What kind of weather was it up around the lake?
A.     It was warm weather.
Q.     Was it raining?
A.     Never rained at that time. It was raining when we were coming back. When we got
       to Fish Creek it was raining.
Q.     How many days were you there at the lake before they began to make this hooch?
A.     We staid about a month there.
Q.     You were there about a month before this hooch was made?
A.     The old man Talkeetna Stepan made a barrel of hooch and Knik Nicoli made some hooch, made a barrel each.
Q.     What size would you say those barrels were?
A.     I do not know, about 2 feet high and one foot wide. One was a candy barrel.
Q.     Did you see them drink it?
A.     No.
Q.     How long were they drinking this before they had this fight?
A.     I think they had the fight about 8 o'clock at night. It was dark then.
Q.     Before they had this fight they were drinking the hooch?
A.     Yes.
Q.     You did not see them drink it?
A.     No.
Q.     Where were you when you saw Talkeetna Stepan pull the ridge pole down on Knik Nicoli?
A.     I saw him from the outside, I was just a little ways on the outside of the tent.
Q.     The other four were on the inside of the tent at the time?
A.     Bob ran out when the old man got up.
Q.     The boy Bob came out when the ridge pole fell, is that correct?
A.     Yes.
Q.     What did you do then?
A.     We just was outside and we ran a little ways when Knik Nicoli came out and we stood and looked back.
Q.     Were they fighting then?
A.     Yes. Nagolia and Talkeetna Stepan were under the tent and he was hitting them with the stick.
Q.     What kind of a tent was that, did it have sides to it?
A.     Canvas came clear to the ground.
Q.     The canvas came clear to the ground?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Then when they were fighting your mother and Talkeetna Stepan were on the inside
       of the tent and this man Nicoli was outside and you were standing some distance
       away, do you know how far?
A.     We were some distance away but we could see some. It was a little dark.
Q.     When he hit those persons with the stick, both were inside of the tent?
A.     Yes, my mother and Talkeetna Stepan.
Q.     Then you could not see with your own eyes with the canvas over them, which one he hit?
A.     The canvas covered the old man and my mother and both were inside the tent.
Q.     Then you did not see Knik Nicoli strike Stepan with your own eyes?
A.     We saw with our own eyes when he hit the old man.
Q.     The tent fell down on your mother and step-father and they were inside the tent
       and Nicoli was outside with a stick in his hand and he struck somebody in the tent?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Could you see those persons in the tent or could you just recognize who they were?
A.     I could see.
Q.     What started the fight?
A.     The ridge pole hit Nicoli when it fell down. The old man on his way out of the
       tent pulled the ridge pole down and it struck Nicoli.
Q.     Was he drunk at the time?
A.     He was crazy at the time.
Q.     How long had he been drunk?
A.     I do not know.
Q.     This Nicoli was drinking hooch too?
A.     Yes, they all drank the hooch.
Q.     Both he and Talkeetna Stepan were drinking hooch?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Talkeetna Stepan made a keg of hooch and this Nicoli made a keg of hooch?
A.     Yes.
Q.     With what did you dig the grave?
A.     With a shovel.
Q.     Did you have a shovel with you?
A.     Yes.
Q.     After the bodies were buried how long did you stay in camp?
A.     We went the same day. The three of us left the lake together and came out to
       Fish Creek and he told us to go to Fish Creek which is about four miles away
       from the town of Talkeetna. Knik Nicoli burned the tent and all the stuff that
       was in it after the bodies were buried and he also burned the stick.
Q.     After Knik Nicoli hit them with that club, what did he do?
A.     He lied down.
Q.     How long did he lie down?
A.     A little while.
Q.     Then when he got up what did he do, did he go to the tent?
A.     He pulled the tent off the old man and Nagolia. The old man was dead, his body
       was warm but he was dead. That was two or three hours after he was hit.
Q.     What did your mother say at the time? Did she say anything to you?
A.     She said Knik Nicoli hit her too and broke her arm and hit her on the head too.
       Next day she talked about going to Knik and she says I cannot go with you to Knik,
       but if you go to Knik or some other place tell the truth about it.
Q.     Whose rifle is that?
A.     The old mans, Talkeetna Stepan's. They had another gun, but that 22 gun was the
       one my mother shot herself with, she tied a string around the trigger and killed
       herself. When he buried the bodies he burnt the tent and burnt the stick and he
       burned up all but those things in the sack here.
Q.     You say your mother shot herself with that rifle, did you see her shoot herself?
A.     I heard her, I heard the noise when she shot herself.
Q.     Did your mother say she shot herself?
A.     She did not talk after she shot herself. She was living but did not talk. Nicoli
       was digging the grave at the time she shot herself.



QUESTIONED  BY W. A. MUNLY    ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY:

Bob Stepan's testimony was given through an interpreter named "Jocko".  Said Bob Stepan, after being asked if he knew what an oath meant, and replying that it meant to tell the truth, he was sworn and testified as follows.

Previous to his being sworn, Jocko, the interpreter was also sworn as an interpreter:


Q.     What is your name and what is your age?
A.     Bob Stepan, age eleven years.
Q.     Who is your father?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan.
Q.     You live at Knik?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Did you go up to Talkeetna Lake?
A.     Yes.
Q.     When did you go up there?
A.     Last winter.
Q.     Who went up with you to Talkeetna Lake?
A.     Five. Knik Nicoli, Talkeetna Stepan, Nagolia Stepan, Inga and myself.
Q.     Did you see the trouble at Talkeetna Lake?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Did you see Nicoli strike with a club?
A.     Yes.
Q.     How big a club was it?
A.     About four feet long and about 3 inches thick.
Q.     Where did he strike and who did he strike?
A.     I do not know who he struck, Talkeetna Stepan and Nagolia were under the tent
       and Nicoli struck down at the tent.
Q.     Who was in the tent at the time?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan was in the tent and Nagolia.
Q.     And you saw him strike down at the tent when they were in there?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Were you there when Nicoli raised the tent afterwards?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Was Talkeetna Stepan alive or dead then?
A.     He was dead then.
Q.     Was Nagolia Stepan alive or dead then?
A.     She was alive.
Q.     Did Nagolia say anything to you or to Inga?
A.     She talked to Inga.
Q.     Did you hear what Nagolia said to Inga?
A.     No.
Q.     Did you help dig the grave?
A.     Yes.
Q.     Who did they put down in the grave?
A.     Talkeetna Stepan and Nagolia.
Q.     Did you hear the shot when Nagolia Stepan shot herself?
A.     Yes.
Q.     When was that?
A.     Next day after the trouble.
Q.     Did you see Nicoli burn up the club and the tent?
A.     Yes, he burt up the tent.
Q.     Did he, Nicoli, burn up all the bloody clothes?
A.     He burned up the club and the clothes.


QUESTIONS BY W. H. RAGER Esq.

Q.     Ask him how much hooch they made.
A.     He say they make two barrels of hooch.
Q.     Ask him if Talkeetna Stepan make hooch.
A.     He say Talkeetna Stepan make one and Nicoli make one too.
Q.     How big were they?
A.     About two feet high.
Q.     Did he have any of the hooch?
A.     No.
Q.     Ask him if he was in the tent when the ridge pole fell down.
A.     He say yes.
Q.     Ask him if he saw the ridge pole hit Nicoli.
A.     He say yes he saw him.
Q.     Ask him if he saw Talkeetna Stepan when he pulled the tent down and caused the ridge pole to fall.
A.     He say yes.
Q.     How long did he, Bob, stay in the tent after the ridge pole fell down.
A.     He say when the tent fell down he ran out. He was scared, they were trying to
       talk fight, hooch all around. Talkeetna Stepan tried to get out of the tent and
       the ridge pole fell down and Nicoli got up and went outside the tent and got a
       club and Talkeetna Stepan and Nagolia were in the tent and he saw Nicoli hit him with the club.

After this testimony, the boy Bob Stepan appeared confused and would not answer any more questions and the hearing was closed.

Mr. Munly asked "Jocko" how old a man Talkeetna Stepan was and he stated he was close to 50 years old.


END
 

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