KODIAK — To this day, there is only one notice under the unsolved crimes tab on the Kodiak Crime Stoppers website. The notice, dated May 2, 1993, states:
“The Kodiak Police Department is looking for the person responsible for killing Carlos V. Medina of Kodiak. On May 2, 1993, Carlos Medina’s body was found on Pillar Mountain in Kodiak, Alaska. An autopsy determined that Medina had been beaten to death. Medina’s family had reported him missing the day before. If you have information about the person responsible for the murder of Carlos Medina, call Kodiak Crime Stoppers.”
After 26 years, the 1993 murder of the Kodiak business-owner and community leader remains Kodiak Police Department’s only unsolved homicide.
While the case has evaded KPD for decades now, there is one person who has not stopped in his efforts to get the case solved: Carlos Medina’s brother, Jerry Medina.
Jerry Medina, who has lived in Winnipeg, Canada, since 1981, has never stopped searching for justice for his brother. Last year, on the 25th anniversary of the murder, he came back to Alaska to spread the word in the hope that someone would come forward with additional information that might help solve the case. He’s reportedly made more than 20 trips to Alaska for this exact purpose over the years.
“We are begging to please come forward anyone who had information to the murder case of our beloved brother Carlos Medina,” Jerry Medina wrote in a recent email to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
While there are at least four cold cases in Kodiak’s history, the Medina case is the only one within the jurisdiction of KPD with no closure. In 2012, KDM reported that the department had involved the FBI and Alaska State Troopers over the years with the case to see if there were any angles left unexplored.
“We are at a stopping point unless new evidence comes up,” former Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai told KDM in 2012.
On May 2, 1993, officers found Medina’s silver Nissan truck parked off Pillar Mountain Road. Medina’s body was eventually found with the help of volunteers from the Alaska State Troopers, and the U.S. Coast Guard. His death was ruled a homicide.
Medina, originally from the Philippines, was an up-and-coming Kodiak businessman who had opened his own restaurant, Asia House, a year before he died. He was 36 at the time of his death and was well-known in Kodiak, where he was considered a figurehead in the Filipino community. He had three young children, was in the process of buying a house and was planning to run for City Council.
After his death, various residents donated money for a reward to help catch the perpetrator.
“The main reason why I emailed you guys is I’m looking for help,” Jerry Medina said in an interview with KDM on Tuesday.
Over the decades that Jerry Medina has been coming to Alaska, he’s tried all kinds of tactics to unearth the truth.
“I’ve been to Kodiak probably about ten times, trying to find things out, trying to talk to people,” he said. “I’ve put flyers up in Safeway, put stickers up on posts … but it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.”
Jerry Medina offered a reward for information, which eventually swelled to $20,000.
“Before I die, this is what I want: I want to get justice for him,” he said. “I even wrote a letter to the Governor of Alaska, to the State of Alaska representatives, to the FBI … ”
While KPD have never found enough evidence to prosecute anyone, Jerry Medina has his own theory: he believes that his youngest brother Rolando Vizcarra-Medina is the one responsible.
“I have a feeling in my heart hat my brother Rolando had something to do with it,” Medina said.
Vizcarra-Medina took over Asia House following his brother’s death. After the business began to struggle, he moved back to the Philippines in 1995.
Jerry Medina said, in 1997, that his late brother appeared to him in a dream. It prompted him to travel back to his family home in the Philippines, where he heard Vizcarra-Medina was living lavishly. When he made the trip, Jerry Medina found various documents belonging to Carlos Medina, which he had no idea were in Rolando Vizcarra-Medina’s possession. According to Jerry Medina, Vizcarra-Medina was away from the home at the time.
After Jerry Medina contacted KPD, then-Police Chief John Palmer traveled to the Philippines and interviewed Vizcarra-Medina. In April 1998, Rolando Vizcarra-Medina was charged with first-degree theft for taking $258,000 in life insurance money from Carlos Medina’s widow and second-degree murder. While Vizcarra-Medina pleaded no contest to theft charges and was ordered to repay $60,000, the murder charges were dropped because DNA evidence collected at the crime scene didn’t support the charge.
At the time, then-Kodiak District Attorney J. Michael Gray told the Anchorage Daily News: “The new evidence became compelling enough that I would have an ethical problem pursuing the case against Rolando.”
Some Kodiakans also dismissed the idea. In 2002, Bernie Ballao (who currently owns Bernie’s) told the ADN: “My personal feeling is that I can’t believe he’d do such a thing. He’s such a nice guy … A lot of us here in Kodiak feel the same way.”
In 2018, ADN attempted to reach Rolando Vizcarra-Medina. He responded by saying he would have to speak with his family about it, before leaving a voicemail, saying, “For an interview I am so sorry to let you know I am advised not to say a thing about it … Thank you so much then, and God bless you.”
Kodiak Police Chief Tim Putney said that the case somewhat hangs over KPD, but that the evidence has been investigated extensively.
“With the last round of big retirements we had, I think Medina was really the last outstanding case they wished they could have solved,” Putney said. “I’ve gone through the case, but it’s really far gone.”
Putney, however, noted that the case is still open and that it’s still possible for new information to come to light.
“Anybody who knows anything, now is the time to report it and hopefully we can bring some closure to the family,” Putney said. “I think that’s really what that case is going to take: For someone to come forward with some new information.”
Jerry Medina said that the family is beginning to lose hope that the case will ever be solved –– but added that he won’t stop looking for the truth.
“It’s still ongoing and we won’t stop until justice is served,” he said. “The only message I can put out is to please help us. We want to put an end to this tragic death of my brother. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.”
Anyone with information can contact Kodiak Police Department at 486-8000.