Sept. 6, 1982, in Craig, Alaska, and 28-year-old couple Mark Coulthurst and his pregnant wife Irene were killed along with their 5-year-old daughter Kimberly and 4-year-old son John. Deckhands 18-year-old Chris Heyman, Jerome Keown, Dean Moon and Mike Stewart, all 19, also died in the massacre.
The night before the killings Mark Coulthurst had been attending a party for his birthday and had gone back to the boat as the weather began to turn. Investigators then say the killer sneaked onto the boat and shot his victims dead, several murdered whilst still in their bunks asleep. The boat was then moved to another spot where the killer had tried to sink it. This failed and the next day the Investor was set on fire, destroying much of the evidence and burning most of the bodies.
Despite the horrific nature of the crime and the resulting intensive investigation, it was two years before police arrested John Peel. He used to work for Coulthurst and he matched the descriptions given by several witnesses of a man seen going back and forth to the boat.
However, the 1986 trial resulted in a hung jury and the second trial saw Peel fond not guilty. He then went on to take legal action against the state for wrongful prosecution and won $900,000 in settlement, he also spoke to People Magazine in 2017.
The Alaska State Troopers have since told the press that the case is now closed and they are no longer looking for the killer.
People Magazine Investigates – Murder at Sea airs at 6:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.