Wasilla man indicted for murder of missing person found under his floorboards

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 10:01 PM AKDT
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Daniel Buckwalter of Big Lake went missing in August of 2015, but now a man has been indicted with first and second degree murder for his death.

Jay Osmond Gardner of Wasilla was indicted by the Palmer Grand Jury on June 30, Troopers say, and he is currently being held without bail.

The case goes back five years when Alaska State Troopers requested the public’s help in finding Buckwalter after his disappearance was called “suspicious" with foul play suspected. The request was posted after Buckwalter’s vehicle was found abandoned in Houston.

Troopers say it was “apparent that the vehicle had been moved from the initial crime scene.” In their investigation, Troopers said they thought Buckwalter had been murdered at his home in Wasilla. Their prime suspect was Gardner due to “several inconsistent statements” he had made during the investigation.

Troopers were unable to locate Buckwalter throughout that time, but Gardner was contacted by Troopers in March this year at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on an outstanding felony warrant for misconduct involving weapons.

At that time, Troopers believed Gardner was trying to flee Alaska under an "assumed identity." Troopers again made attempts to find Buckwalter’s remains through a search warrant at Gardner’s residence in Wasilla in April. Troopers say they excavated the entire property without finding the remains so they got a warrant to search Gardner’s home itself.

It was in Gardner’s residence, underneath the floorboards and three feet of dirt and rocks that investigators found the remains of an adult human male.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office determined it was Buckwalter and that he had died because was asphyxiated and had a gunshot wound.

The Palmer Grand Jury also indicted Garnder for tampering with physical evidence.

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