In 1939, four brutal murders occurred at three separate locations on a single day in Cache Creek country, a remote Alaska gold-mining region near Talkeetna. Two of the victims, Dick Francis and Frank Jenkins, had mined there for almost three decades, but disputes over mining claims in the 1930s launched the two men into protracted court battles and an arena of antagonism. By 1938, when Francis claims were auctioned to satisfy courtordered damages awarded to Jenkins, everyone in the scattered but close-knit mining community of Cache Creek country was aware of the bitter feud. At the end of the 1939 mining season Jenkins and one of his young employees were bludgeoned to death in Wonder Gulch; three miles away, Helen Jenkins was murdered near the Jenkinses cabin along Little Willow Creek; and, in his Ruby Creek cabin, Francis was found shot in the head with a revolver in his hand an apparent suicide. He was thought to have first vengefully murdered the others. But an autopsy revealed that Dick Francis had been shot twice in the head. The shocked and outraged mining community began to suspect that the Jenkins/Francis feud had been ruthlessly exploited for caches of gold long rumored to be hidden on the Jenkinses property. The case assumed sensational proportions in Alaska and, because law enforcement was minimal in this remote region, angry Alaskans clamored for a full-blown investigation by the FBI. More than sixty years later, the evidence never made public before whispers that justice may not have been served.
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