- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An Anchorage man brutally beat, shot and killed a woman at his home, then loaded her body into a car with help from his brother and was arrested after driving into a light pole, according to charges filed by Alaska prosecutors.

Benjamin Wilkins, 34, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, evidence tampering and drug misconduct in the death of Jacqueline Goodwin, 30. Her body was discovered in a car that Wilkins crashed Monday on a busy Anchorage street. She had plier marks and bruises on her body and her teeth were broken.

The state medical examiner determined the cause of death was a mix of asphyxiation, blunt force head injuries and a gunshot wound to her torso.

Wilkins’ brother, Connor Stefano, 28, is charged with felony hindering prosecution and evidence tampering in the case. Their mother, Jacqueline Stefano, 61, is charged with felony hindering prosecution and drug possession.

Wilkins is represented by the Alaska Public Defender’s Office, which does not comment on pending cases. A call to his attorney was not immediately returned.

Charging documents filed by assistant district attorney Gustaf Olson say police recovered black tar heroin, mushrooms, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs from the basement where Wilkins lives.

Olson said by email he could not comment on the case but gave this account in the charging document:

Police at about 11:40 p.m. Monday responded to a crash on Debarr Road near Alaska Regional Hospital and found Wilkins speaking on a cellphone next to a car that that had knocked down a light pole. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

As police waited for a tow truck to move the demolished car, they looked in the back seat and saw what appeared to be a passenger under a sleeping bag. They found the still-warm body of Goodwin bound with a rope around her arms and zip ties around her wrists. She had a white, plastic garbage bag with a red drawstring around her head and zip ties stuffed down her throat.

At the police station, investigators found blood on Wilkins’ shirt and shoes. The car was registered to his grandmother, who early Tuesday morning said Wilkins lived in the basement. However, his mother, Jacqueline Stefano, who also lives at the house, told officers Wilkins did not live there.

Connor Stefano also was at the house. He told officers he had not seen his brother in a week.

During a second interview later Tuesday, Jacqueline Stefano acknowledged that she had heard Wilkins arguing with a woman Monday night and that the woman sounded “distressed.” She said she called Connor Stefano to deal with the situation.

Connor Stefano in a second interview told police he heard a disturbance at his grandmother’s house, waited until the noise stopped, stepped into the basement and saw a bloody mess that he started to clean up until his mother told him to stop.

He denied assisting in a murder or disposing of a woman’s body. However, police found no blood or drag marks on the basement stairs, indicating Wilkins had help moving the body. Wilkins weighs 155 pounds and Goodwin weighed 175.

Police found $125,191 in cash at the home, including nearly $30,000 in a motorhome parked outside.

Besides the drugs, they found zip ties similar to the ones found on Goodwin. The found a brass bed in the basement with bent and broken bars. The mattress was found with bloodstains, a bullet hole and bullet fragments. Police found bloody cleanup supplies and a broken, collapsible baton in a shed.

Goodwin was last seen alive Friday. Online court documents did not list attorney for Connor or Jacqueline Stefano. They were scheduled for arraignment Thursday afternoon.

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