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. At about 5am, before dawn, on the morning of September 28, 1994, she left 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 on. 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 her 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 this case to themselves.
Karen found an ally in reporter Maria Downey, who was also trying to get more information about this 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 this 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, she 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, they claim that they have looked into the leads that she gave them and that they merely have not shared all of their information about this 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 it 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 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 this case. Karen believed that if there was another person involved, the DNA didn't have to belong to him. 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.
In September 1997, troopers finally acknowledged publicly that Bonnie had been raped and beaten before her death. They believed that she was either thrown over the cliff or fell while escaping her attacker(s).
Troopers tried to find witnesses who may have seen something on the last morning Bonnie was alive. A neighbor reported seeing her walking down their street at around 5:20am. Another witness saw her at the bus stop one hour later. 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 car. Despite this, they did not have any evidence to arrest anyone in connection with this case.
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 one 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 car was an older model yellow or light tan compact one. 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. DNA from semen found on Bonnie's body was later placed into the CODIS national DNA database. In November 2006, it was matched to thirty-six-year-old Kenneth Dion. 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. He had also served time on assault charges.
In May 2007, Dion was charged with Bonnie's rape and murder. It is believed that the crime was a random act of violence and that he picked her up while she was walking to the bus stop. At trial in May 2011, 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 Bonnie's injuries were caused by a blunt object or weapon, not from a fall. At the time, Dion 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 it. 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. On June 15, 2011, Dion was found guilty of her rape and murder. On October 31, he was sentenced to 124 years in prison - 99 for first-degree murder and 25 for first-degree sexual assault. In February 2015, his conviction was upheld.
- Bonnie Craig on Unsolved Archive
- Justice for Bonnie website
- Karen Foster on the SPC website
- Reward Money Donated for Clues in Murder - November 4, 1994
- Leads Sought in Girl's Death - November 21, 1994
- New details released on 3-year-old killing - September 29, 1997
- Troopers Defend Probe Into Unsolved '94 Slaying - September 30, 1997
- Man to raise reward money in girl's murder - May 26, 1998
- Anchorage Residents Asked to Fund Reward - May 27, 1998
- DNA links prison inmate to 1994 Bonnie Craig murder - May 2, 2007
- Cold case unites mothers on opposite coasts - May 13, 2007
- Experts: More than DNA needed to convict girl's killer - May 13, 2007
- Prosecution says DNA points to murder suspect - May 17, 2011
- Kenneth Dion, ex-soldier, on trial for 1994 murder of Alaska coed Bonnie Craig - May 18, 2011
- Lawyer says Dion did not rape, kill Bonnie Craig - May 19, 2011
- Bonnie Craig's Boyfriend Testifies in Dion Murder Trial - May 22, 2011
- Defense Admits Dion Lied to Police About Knowing Craig - June 13, 2011
- Defendant guilty of Bonnie Craig Murder - June 15, 2011
- Dion Convicted of Killing Bonnie Craig 17 Years Ago - June 15, 2011
- Guilty verdict in 1994 murder of Bonnie Craig, Alaska college student - June 17, 2011
- Bonnie Craig's killer sentenced to 124 years in prison - October 31, 2011
- Account of Bonnie Craig murder, trial shows mother's unwavering determination - October 12, 2014
- Murder conviction upheld in Anchorage teen's 1994 death - February 14, 2015
- Bonnie Craig on Find a Grave