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Man charged with Homer woman’s murder worked with vulnerable adults

Investigator says previous attacks were reported to U.S. Army, but background check for job was successful according to his employer
Warning: Graphic content. A man charged with the 2019 kidnapping and murder of a Homer woman had previously worked at her supportive housing facility.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:24 PM AKDT
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This article contains information about alleged sexual assault that might be difficult for some readers.

HOMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The man charged with kidnapping and killing Anesha ‘Duffy’ Murnane in 2019, worked with vulnerable adults in the community for almost two years with at least one company. In the past, he had worked with residents at the supportive living facility where Murnane was last seen alive.

Kirby Calderwood, 32, worked at South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services in Homer as a direct service provider, someone who cares for medically and mentally vulnerable people.

“The individual arrested had been employed as a DSP at SPBHS from September 2017 until August of 2019,” South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services CEO Jay Bechtol said in an email Tuesday.

Murnane disappeared in October of 2019. It is unclear if Calderwood worked for other service providing agencies while he lived in Homer.

When interviewed by police in May of 2021, Calderwood told investigators he knew Murnane from when he worked at SPBHS and their related Main Tree Supportive Living Facility, where Murnane lived. Bechtol says that during that time, Calderwood provided treatment to several residents.

“SPBHS will continue to cooperate with the authorities until this case is resolved,” Bechtol said.

In the email, Bechtol also said the organization’s staff, “are relieved for the Murnane family that this could lead to closure while also trying to reconcile the anger and confusion this has elicited.”

[Related: ‘I’ve been holding out hope’: Family, friends of Anesha ‘Duffy’ Murnane react to arrest in 2019 case]

An investigator hired by Homer police specifically to look into Murnane’s disappearance wrote in charging documents that Calderwood’s May 2021 interview occurred while he was a person of interest in the case, though he didn’t explain why.

Homer Police Department Investigator Matthew Haney wrote in his affidavit that multiple women who were previously in relationships with Calderwood alleged that he violently raped and abused them, while pursuing fantasies of bondage and torture. At least two of these acts were reported to the U.S. Army, Haney wrote. Details of what happened after the reports are unclear, but the affidavit indicates that at least one of the reports led to an investigation.

Sgt. Pablo Saez, a U.S. Army spokesperson, says Calderwood served in the Army as a Unit Supply Specialist from September 2009 to November 2011, during which time he spent a year deployed to Iraq. Calderwood also served in the Army Reserve from March to November of 2017. He held the rank of specialist at the end of his service, but Saez said he could not provide a characterization of any soldier’s discharge due to privacy constraints.

The result of those alleged reports of rape and violence are not clear, but Calderwood was required to submit to and pass a background check in order to be employed as a Personal Care Assistant in the state of Alaska. Bechtol said in an interview that all South Peninsula Behavioral Health employees undergo the check, and prospective employees with military criminal records have been barred from employment in that field in the past.

According to State health department spokesman Clinton Bennett, the state of Alaska requires all Personal Care Assistants to be submitted by their employer to the New Alaska Background Check System, which also requires fingerprinting. The state has a matrix of nearly 200 crimes that can preclude someone from being employed as an individual service provider — some permanently — and some for time periods of 3-10 years. Those crimes would only preclude a person if they were convicted, Bechtol explained.

Homer Police did not return interview requests Tuesday to ask if there is concern that there may be more victims of concerning behavior from Calderwood. Their release about Calderwood’s arrest said the case is still open and they are asking anyone with information on Calderwood or his interactions with Anesha Murnane to call the department at 907-235-3150. A spokesperson for the FBI said in an interview that the agency is assisting Homer Police, but referred all other questions to HPD.

After being interviewed by Homer police in 2021, Calderwood moved to Utah, where he was arrested after his current wife called the Kenai Peninsula Crime Stoppers tip-line, detailing the circumstances of Murnane’s kidnapping, torture and death, as described by her husband. Haney wrote that Calderwood told his wife that he had disposed of Murnane’s body in a dumpster within sight of a home where he cared for an elderly woman for work.

If you are in a relationship that is unsafe, visit the State of Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault web site to find resources in your community, and in your language. If you are in need of immediate help, call 911. The National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-7233.

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