The suspect in an early-morning break-in at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center was arraigned in Juneau District Court Wednesday on one count of second-degree burglary.
Mack Arthur Parker, 51, entered a not guilty plea and remains in custody on $10,000 bail; he was set for a preliminary hearing into the evidence on July 13.
Security cameras caught a man breaking in to the visitor center and the Discovery Southeast bookstore at approximately 4:30 a.m. Sunday, and the ensuing concern that the suspect might still be in the area prompted the closure of the popular center and neighboring trails until about noon that day.
According to the criminal complaint written by Juneau Police Department Sgt. Dominic Branson, officers responded and found only one vehicle in the parking lot, a black Chrysler they recognized as being associated with Parker.
The officers found a broken window on the ground floor of the building and called for back-up, Branson wrote in the complaint. As they approached the building, one of the officers saw a man dressed in black about 75 yards away, who walked quickly away despite commands to stop and who disappeared into the woods headed toward Nugget Falls.
Branson wrote that the Chrysler, which is registered to Parker’s wife, appeared to be full of items from the visitor center, including brochures and maps, stuffed animals, clothing and products with “Made in Alaska” stickers on them.
The visitor’s center had been ransacked and laptops were missing, Branson wrote, adding, “It was obvious someone had gone through file cabinets, desk drawers and employee lockers and backpacks.” On the second floor, Branson found equipment strewn about, a donation box removed with cash on the floor, and a cash register that had been pried and damaged. Outside the visitors center, officers found several backpacks with computer equipment and a spotting scope.
In one of the backpacks, Branson wrote, an officer found a set of dentures labeled with the name “M. Parker.”
According to Branson, the suspect also broke into a gift shop just off the parking lot, and surveillance video footage showed the break-in and the man loading items into the Chrysler. The man seen in the footage matched photographs of Parker and officers familiar with Parker identified him from the footage, Branson wrote.
Hours later, hikers on the East Glacier Trail reported seeing a man matching Parker’s description.
“The hikers said the man appeared injured, said he fell, lost his dentures and was trying to find his way to the visitor’s center,” Branson wrote. A U.S. Forest Service officer saw a man matching Parker’s description on the trail, but he fled into the woods, Branson said.
At approximately noon in Monday, Parker was located inside a residence in the 9200 block of James Boulevard and he was taken into custody. Branson wrote in the complaint that clothing was located in the residence consistent with those seen in the surveillance video.
Parker reportedly admitted to being in the area at the time of the break-in and reportedly said he was under pressure and “when he is under pressure he does stupid (stuff).”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.