Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers.
The Kenai Grand Jury on Wednesday indicted Kirby Calderwood, 32, of Ogden, Utah, in the death of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman who went missing in October 2019.
In the indictment released on Sept. 21, the grand jury charged Calderwood with first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault, manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence. All but the manslaughter and evidence tampering charges are unclassified felonies. If convicted of first-degree murder, Calderwood could face from 20 to 99 years in prison.
The formal indictment follows the filing of charging documents on May 7 by Homer Police alleging that Calderwood abducted Murnane on Oct. 17, 2019, while she walked on Pioneer Avenue from her MainTree Housing apartment to a doctor’s appointment, and that he took her to an unoccupied Homer home where he sexually assaulted and hurt Murnane before killing her. Calderwood later left Alaska and moved to Utah.
On May 6, Ogden Police arrested Calderwood at his home, according to KSL.com. Ogden Police later served Calderwood with the Homer Police arrest warrant. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said the Ogden charges were domestic-violence related.
According to online records, Calderwood has remained in custody at the Weber County, Utah, Correctional Facility. Bail was set at $1 million cash only. Calderwood has not yet been arraigned on the charges. Robl said it’s possible Calderwood might waive arraignment and enter a plea through a court filing.
The three counts of second-degree murder all are for the death of Murnane, but, along with the first-degree murder and manslaughter charges, involve different scenarios for how he might have allegedly killed her.
After Murnane went missing, police continued their investigation into her disappearance. Homer Police did an air search and brought in search dogs. The dogs tracked Murnane’s scent to Pioneer Avenue near the Kachemak Bay Campus, where the dogs lost the scent — an indication she had been picked up in car there. Cellphone records showed her phone was either turned off or the battery quit working at 12:23 p.m.
Volunteers started searches on Oct. 19, and continued them throughout that fall. Family and friends have held periodic vigils and remembrances for Murnane since her disappearance. Homer Police hired Matt Haney, a former Homer Police officer with experience in missing and murdered persons investigations, to be a special investigator.
Haney had identified Calderwood as a person of interest in May of 2021. Calderwood had worked at MainTree Housing, a supported housing complex run by South Peninsula Behavioral Services, and knew Murnane from there. Calderwood passed criminal background checks before he was hired.
Murnane was declared dead June 17, 2021, in a presumptive death jury hearing. The jury determined that she most likely died by homicide.
In April of 2022, a person made a Crimestoppers tip, and on May 6 that person called Haney and said they were ready to make a statement. That tip came from a person who knew Calderwood, and the person said that Calderwood had told them about Murnane’s abduction, assault and killing. Calderwood talked about the abduction with the tipster after Haney interviewed him in May 2021.
The tipster provided details about the case, such as that Calderwood had a ladies Timex watch he allegedly took from Murnane. When Ogden police served a search warrant on Calderwood’s home, they found a ladies Timex watch that matched the description of her watch given by her parents. Ogden police also found a missing person’s flyer for Murnane in Calderwood’s home.
Homer Police continued their investigation over the summer. An FBI crime scene processing team also assisted Homer Police, as did the Ogden Police Department, Robl said.
“I think we can say that the investigation part of the case is closed,” Robl said. “Right now what we’re doing is help support the DA to bring a successful prosecution of this case in any way that we can.”
Robl said police have not recovered Murnane’s body. Murnane’s parents, Ed and Sara Berg, worked with Homer artist Brad Hughes to create the Loved & Lost Bench, a memorial to Murnane and other missing and murdered people installed at the Homer Public Library. A dedication of the bench and a memorial for Murnane was held in June.
The Bergs sent an email statement in response to the indictment.
“Duffy’s family would like to thank District Attorney Scot Leaders, the jurors and the three witnesses that made this nine-count indictment possible,” the Bergs wrote. “It was a lot of hard work, but is a great step forward, making our world a safer place. It was a bittersweet verdict for us — so glad we got it and so so sorry it had to be done. All our horror has been validated. We have a long road ahead. We are so glad this town is right beside us.”
Robl said Ogden authorities will hold Calderwood while they prosecute him on the domestic violence charges before he’s extradited to Alaska. Robl did not know when that would happen.
With the indictment, the case against Calderwood moves into the trial phase.
“We’re certainly happy that we were able to identify him and filed charges against him and bring him to justice for this horrible crime that occurred here in Homer,” Robl said. “I think we’ve been able to present a solid, prosecutable case to the DA’s office, and we look forward to seeing this whole scenario come to fruition and be completed.”