Cold Blood Alaska on ID is examing the murders of Deborah Rehor and Carl “Rick” Beery, a couple killed by Paul Stavenjord near their remote cabin near Chulitna, northeast of Talkeetna, deep in the Alaskan wilderness.
Rehor and Beery had decided to spend memorial weekend in 1997 at their remote cabin; the holiday home was inaccessible except by foot or off-road vehicle. Tragically, their decision brought them into contact with near neighbor and would-be-killer Paul Stavenjord.
When Rehor subsequently failed to turn up for work on Tuesday, May 27, her brother, Don Tidwell, became instantly concerned. Tidwell traveled up to the cabin where he found the couple’s two dogs but no sign of his sister or Beery.
He walked to a nearby cabin owned by Stavenjord and asked him if he knew what happened to the couple. Stavenjord told him he had had a falling out with Beery and that they hadn’t spoken in a year. Nonetheless, he offered to help Tidwell with the search.
Tidwell would later say that he was suspicious of Stavenjord and felt uncomfortable around him. After failing to find the couple, he contacted the Alaska State Troopers.
The next day, Tidwell found the couple’s 4×4 vehicle stuck in a creek. The following day, Beery’s remains were pulled out of the same creek. Rehor’s body was found a week later, hidden in some bushes about 150 feet away from where the car had been found.
Both 40-year-old Rehor and 48-year-old Beery had been shot in the head, and Rehor had also been sexually assaulted.
Paul Stavenjord went on the run
The investigators found semen on Rehor’s remains which allowed them to do a DNA test. The DNA was a match for Stavenjord, who then went on the run.
The cops immediately instigated a far-reaching search of the Alaska wilderness. An operation that some considered futile as Stavenjord was an experienced woodsman who had lived in the region for 20 years. One local described the search as being like hunting Rambo.
In the end, Stavenjord handed himself in to the police, saying he wanted to prove his innocence. He claimed that he had been having a consensual affair with Rehor and that Beery had attacked him when he’d discovered the affair. He said that Beery opened fire and that he had shot him in self-defense, and Rehor was accidentally killed during the gunfight.
However, a jury didn’t believe Stavenjord’s version of events, so they convicted him of two counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to consecutive 99-year prison terms.
More from Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more murders and serious crimes profiled on ID.
Maurice Hunter Jr. was gunned down in a Kansas City, KS, trailer park by his girlfriend’s daughter, Alexia Hendricks, who then stole his car. She eventually turned herself in.
Michael Mastromarino, aka the bodysnatcher, used a network of undertakers to illegally harvest tissue from corpses and then sell it on for thousands of dollars. His crimes were only uncovered when the NYPD stumbled into a secret room with medical equipment at a mortuary.
Cold Blooded Alaska airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.