Woman charged for conspiracy to commit murder in 2015 death

Published: Oct. 24, 2017 at 11:43 AM AKDT
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On Oct. 3, 2017, new charges were filed in relation to the 2015 death investigation of Ronald McKnight of Fairbanks, who was shot to death in his Roland Road home.

According to court documents, McKnight was found dead "lying face down in a pool of blood next to his bed," in the afternoon of Dec.10, 2015. Furthermore, McKnight's death was ruled a homicide, when his autopsy indicated he died from gunshot wounds. On April 28, 2016, two adult males, 40-year-old Steven John Hartman and 20-year-old Noah Isaac Griffith, were convicted of murder in the first- and second-degree. Court documents allege that Hartman and Griffith stole guns, ammunition and a safe truck from McKnight, after killing him with gunfire. The court documents also indicate that Tirza Knix, of Fairbanks, helped cover up the murder, but she was not convicted at the time. Official documents claim Knix was the girlfriend of Hartman and knew Griffith.

Now nearly two years later, a grand jury indicted 30-year-old Tirza Knix on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

According to court documents, authorities recovered Griffith's phone and unveiled a conversation with Knix, which occurred on Dec.12, 2015 – the date investigators searched Hartman's residence. The conversation reads:

(App users, to view a photo of the conversation, follow this

Charging document excerpt filed in the Trial Courts State of Alaska Fourth District, on April 28, 2016. (Photo from Alaska Court System)

On Oct. 18, 2017, Alaska State Troopers arrested Knix at The Alaska Club in Fairbanks, where she is currently employed as director of aquatics. According to Megan Peters, public information officer with AST, Knix was taken away from the facility in handcuffs, around 3:30 p.m.

According to the AST dispatch log, Knix was not offered bail and was remanded to the Fairbanks Correctional Center.

At The Alaska Club, Knix’s responsibilities, as lead instructor, included teaching group and private lessons to youth. And according to Mike Guderian, vice president of operations of The Alaska Club, the company was "not aware of Knix’s personal connection to the events in 2015," until she was arrested on-site last Wednesday.

"Ms. Knix was hired in December 2014 and has been employed without incident since her hire date," Guderian wrote to KTUU in an e-mail.

To add fuel to the fire, one health club employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, alleges that upper-management instructed front desk employees to lie about the true nature of Knix's absence.

When a parent stops by the front desk to pay for their swimming lessons with Knix, the employee alleges that the front desk employees were instructed to tell members, "Just to inform you, Tirza had a

family emergency

and will be gone until further notice." Also, the employee alleges that the front desk was instructed to provide the members with option of either a free hydro-massage, or a free guest pass, for the inconvenience.

In response to these internal allegations, Guderian wrote, "It is our policy to not share or release details about staff personnel matters with employees or members. When Ms. Knix was retained, our staff was told she would be out until further notice due to a personal matter. The Alaska Club is dedicated to providing excellent customer service to all members. As part of that goal, our normal operating protocol includes providing members with a free amenity for being inconvenienced by a last-minute cancellation."

Public records also reveal that Knix was previously arrested in North Pole, on April 30, 2016, for a DUI and refusal to submit to a chemical test. This was two days after both Hartman and Griffith were convicted for McKnight's shooting death.

In response, Guderian wrote that the company was not aware of this 2016 DUI arrest.

"Since the aquatics staff is not required to drive a vehicle as part of their job description, we do not have any information pertinent to her driving record," he wrote.

In addition, Guderian says that The Alaska Club has


been contacted by law enforcement with regard to Ms. Knix’s employment, but plans "to cooperate fully with the investigation if asked."

Knix's next court date is set for November. And as a general reminder, the defendant remains innocent, until proven guilty.