One day after a local couple was found murdered inside their home, Juneau police are sifting through dozens of tips from the public to try to track down the murderer.
They’re chasing down every single lead.
“We showed up after the fact, so trying to know what exactly happened is at this point in time our number one priority,” Lt. David Campbell, a spokesman for the Juneau Police Department, said by phone Monday morning.
JPD does not know who killed Robert H. Meireis, 36, and Elizabeth K. Tonsmeire, 34 — or why. Although rumors suggest the double murder was drug-related, Campbell said JPD does not yet have a motive for the killings.
“At this point, we have not, and we’re still looking into it,” he said. “This happened just a day ago, so we’re still at the beginning stages of our investigation. We’re receiving lots of tips from the public that we’re trying to chase down to try to figure out what happened.”
Meireis and Tonsmeire were found deceased inside their Admiralty Condos apartment in the 2700 block of Roger Street in Douglas by a family member. A 69-year-old man had stopped by the apartment to check in on his relative (Campbell did not say which victim the man was related to or what the relation was), discovered the scene and called it in to JPD at about 12:20 p.m. Sunday.
Police confirmed the victims sustained gunshot wounds, but it’s not known when the shooting took place. No one at the condominium complex reported hearing shots fired prior to the discovery of the crime scene.
An autopsy should be able to help establish the time of death, Campbell said. Both bodies have been sent to the medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy. Preliminary results should be available to law enforcement fairly quickly.
Based on evidence at the scene, Juneau police were able to rule out murder-suicide. The department announced Sunday afternoon that they were investigating the deaths as a double murder.
On Monday, Campbell said that determination was based on “the evidence that we have,” but he said he could not elaborate.
JPD is not releasing many details about the case this early on in the investigation. Among the things Campbell couldn’t discuss with the press: a description of the victims’ injuries, whether police found a gun at the scene and what other evidence police found at the house.
Campbell said JPD has to hold information “close to the chest” in order to verify tips that are coming in from the public.
“Hypothetically, if this was a handgun, and somebody came forward and said, ‘I know this happened and it was shotgun,’ then we can say, well, the information that person is providing isn’t accurate, and then we can go from there,” Campbell said. “So by us keeping some of the information at this point a little bit closer to the chest, it gives us an idea when we do receive tips how much credibility we can put into them.”
JPD officers went door-to-door Sunday, interviewing the victims’ neighbors. Campbell said they will likely do another neighborhood canvas sometime soon.
In the meantime, detectives are following up on tips from the public. JPD solicited tips in the case in a press release Sunday afternoon.
“Typically speaking, we do get a lot of people providing information in situations like this, and part of it (the police work) is sifting through it,” Campbell said. “Sometimes people might have a little piece of the pie that in and of itself doesn’t look like much, but when you put them all together, it paints a pretty clear picture. So that’s what we’re trying to do right now is piece things together.”
So far, police still don’t have a suspect.
“We’re following up on leads that we’re getting, but we don’t have any list of suspects or people of interest that we’re looking for,” Campbell said.
Court records and prior JPD press releases indicate that Meireis has a criminal history that involves drug use. He has prior felony convictions for assault with a weapon, burglary and misconduct involving a controlled substance. In January, he jumped from a second-story window at the Bergmann Hotel to evade police when they attempted to serve him two arrest warrants and a court summons. In July, he was indicted for fourth-degree drug misconduct for possessing methamphetamine, a class C felony.
Tonsmeire has a much cleaner record. Her only criminal conviction was a DUI more than 10 years ago. Court records in that case indicate she was also charged with misconduct involving a controlled substance and refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test, but those misdemeanor charges were dismissed by prosecutors.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Tonsmeire worked in the IT field for Lotus Technology Solutions, a software development and technology consulting company headquartered in India.