Real Name: Bonnie Christine Craig
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Date: September 28, 1994
Details: Eighteen-year-old Bonnie Craig was a vivacious and well-liked college freshman at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Before dawn on the morning of September 28, 1994, she left her home for school. Two days a week, she walked forty-five minutes through the early morning darkness to catch the bus. She was a diligent student who prided herself on arriving promptly for her 7AM English class. However, she never arrived that day. Her body was found floating in McHugh Creek later that day. The medical examiner determined she had drowned. But she had also suffered severe head injuries, possibly resulting from a fall off a cliff.
At first, Alaska State Troopers believed Bonnie had died in a hiking accident. Her mother, Karen, however, found evidence that she might have been murdered. When she viewed Bonnie's body, she noticed defensive wounds on her hands. She did not believe that Bonnie would go to the creek area during a school day. Also, the creek was ten miles from the bus stop and she had no way of getting there. Furthermore, the belongings that she took to school that day were not found with her body. According to Karen, the police kept most of the information about the case to themselves.
Karen found an ally in reporter Maria Downey. She was also trying to get more information about the case. For unknown reasons, police did not initially release the results of the sexual assault examination. Karen was told that Bonnie had not been raped. She learned about the results six months later: Bonnie had most likely been sexually assaulted, as semen was found during the examination. However, police did not rule out the possibility that it came from a consensual sexual act.
Frustrated with the police working on the case, Karen began her own investigation. She suspected that Bonnie's murder might have had something to do with her undercover work with the local police. An informant told her that her family may have been targeted by a drug lord after a sting she was involved in resulted in the arrest of several members of his organization. He also claimed that Bonnie's murder was a message to the police department to "back off." According to Karen, Bonnie was murdered the day after the people that she identified were released from jail. Despite the precautions taken to protect her identity during the busts, it would not have been difficult for the accused to learn who had fingered them.
Karen was again frustrated when she met with one of the lead investigators. When she told him about the information she received, he repeatedly asked her for the identity of her source. However, she had promised the informant that she would not reveal his identity. As a result, she believes that investigators did not follow up on her lead. However, the investigators claim that they have looked into the leads that she gave them. They claim that they merely have not shared all of their information about the case.
One year later, one of Bonnie's professors contacted Karen. She became suspicious of one of her students, suspecting that he may have been involved in Bonnie's murder. According to the professor, he made several references to the day of the murder in his journal, claiming it would be a "very tough day" and that he would be "put to a test." According to Karen, some of his writings were also violent.
The professor claimed that the student was late for school that day. When he came to her class, she noticed that he was wet, like he had just got out of a shower. She also said it smelled like he had poured a whole bottle of cologne on himself. After Bonnie's murder, his writings were more peaceful. However, DNA evidence and an alibi ruled him out of her case. Karen believed that if there was another person involved, the DNA didn't have to belong to the student. She also uncovered that he had an assault charge against him and had been bailed out by a friend who was involved in another murder.
Troopers tried to find witnesses who may have seen something on the last morning Bonnie was alive. A neighbor reported seeing her at around 5:20AM walking down their street. Another witness saw her at the bus stop at around 6:20AM. Another neighbor saw a car idling in front of her home that morning. Finally, an anonymous caller to the police "Crime Stoppers" line claimed to have seen her at the bus stop, talking to two men in a vehicle. Despite this, they did not have any evidence to arrest anyone in connection with the case and it remains unsolved.
Suspects: It was suspected that Karen's undercover police work may have been the reason for Bonnie's murder. A drug dealer who had been released from prison the day before was always a suspect in Karen's mind. Another suspect was the student that had violent writings and had exhibited strange behavior around the time of Bonnie's murder.
The anonymous caller who saw Bonnie talking to two men in a car at the bus stop reported that their vehicle was an older model yellow or light tan compact car. It and its occupants have never been located.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 4, 2002 episode. It was also documented on Dateline.
Results: Solved. In 2006, DNA from semen found on Bonnie's body was matched to Kenneth Dion through the CODIS national DNA database. He was in prison in New Hampshire for a series of armed robberies when the match was made. At the time of her murder, he lived in the area, was on probation for robbery, and had been released from an Alaska prison just a few months earlier.
In 2007, Dion was charged with raping and murdering Bonnie. It is believed that the crime was a random act of violence. At trial, he claimed that he had consensual sex with her, and that she accidentally fell to her death while alone at the creek. However, when first questioned, he claimed that he did not know her; her family and friends did not know him either. He also could not account for his whereabouts on the day that she vanished (his wife said that he was not home the entire week).
Furthermore, the medical examiner determined that her injuries were caused by a blunt object or weapon, not from a fall. At the time, he carried martial arts weapons in his car, which could have inflicted the injuries. Also, a leaf with her blood on it was found above the cliff area, suggesting that she was already injured before "falling" from the cliff. Finally, her family noted that she was in a strict, committed relationship with her boyfriend at the time, and would not have had sex with someone else, especially a complete stranger. Dion was found guilty of her murder on June 15, 2011. He was sentenced to 124 years in prison on October 31, 2011.
- Bonnie Craig on Unsolved Archive
- Justice for Bonnie website
- Karen Foster on the SPC website
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- Kenneth Dion, ex-soldier, on trial for 1994 murder of Alaska coed Bonnie Craig
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- Bonnie Craig's Boyfriend Testifies in Dion Murder Trial
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- Guilty verdict in 1994 murder of Bonnie Craig, Alaska college student
- Bonnie Craig's killer sentenced to 124 years in prison
- Account of Bonnie Craig murder, trial shows mother's unwavering determination
- Bonnie Craig on Find a Grave