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Story Last modified at 8:39 p.m. on Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brutal 'lesson' ends in murder

BY ZAZ HOLLANDER
Alaska Star

photo:News

Harvey "Charlie" Albright was found beaten to death by a river outside of Anchorage. Three area men have been charged.
PHOTO Courtesy anchorage police department

Three men who set out to teach a 23-year-old Eagle River man "a lesson" instead beat him to death in a residence on North Juanita Loop, Anchorage police said.

Harvey "Charlie" Albright Jr. died early the morning of Aug. 25 after the beating, which apparently came in retribution for Albright stealing a backpack containing cash, police said.

Officers last week found Albright's body dumped along "a river outside Anchorage," police said. Citing the continuing investigation, they were not releasing any more information about the location.

Arrested on charges of second-degree murder and evidence tampering: Philip Floor, 24, of Chugiak; Carl Leedom, 23, of Eagle River; and Kennith Upton, 23, of Eagle River.

The murder took place in an older log home on North Juanita Loop, according to a Juanita Loop resident who asked not to be named. A number of young people live at the house including Upton, and police visit several times a month, the resident said.

Additional charges in the murder case are possible. Court documents reference a fourth person who helped dump Albright's body. Anchorage police Det. David Cordie on Tuesday said he couldn't shed any light on that person without jeopardizing the investigation.

Asked whether drugs factored into the murder, Cordie said, "that'll come out in the future."

Police aren't saying how the men knew each other or what factors might have motivated such an extreme reaction to a stolen backpack. They also aren't saying just how much cash the pack contained.

But court documents filed with the case describe a sustained assault that apparently went too far. The documents also reveal that it was Floor who told police where to find Albright's body.

The case began on Aug. 26, when Albright's mother reported him missing after his girlfriend called her, worried, Cordie said. The girlfriend mentioned the stolen backpack, and "general threats" made to Albright, the detective said.

A probable cause statement Cordie filed with the charges provides a grim narrative:

Homicide detectives who opened a missing-person's investigation that day learned Albright had stolen Leedom's backpack, which contained cash among other things. Witnesses told detectives that Albright removed the cash and left the pack by the side of the road on Aug. 20. Detectives later found the pack along Harry McDonald Road.

Witnesses told detectives that Leedom "had threatened to kill Albright if he did not return the backpack," the document said.

Leedom confronted Albright about the pack at Upton's residence on Juanita Loop. Leedom, according to the statement, Albright and others, including Upton, slept at the residence the night of Aug. 24. In the early-morning hours of Aug. 25, Leedom contacted Floor and asked him to come to the residence.

According to Floor, he and Leedom "severely beat Albright to 'teach him a lesson' for stealing the backpack," the statement said. Albright had been asleep on a couch in the living room when the attack began.

Awakened by the noise of the assault, Upton emerged from his bedroom and held down Albright while the other men continued to hit him, the statement said. Leedom and Floor also tied up Albright.

At some point, Leedom began pistol-whipping Albright, the statement said. Upton then told the other two to stop the beating because Albright's lips were turning blue.

The men realized Albright wasn't breathing, the statement said. Floor and Upton started CPR. Albright "may have begun breathing again" but remained unconscious, the statement said.

Leedom then told the others to carry Albright's body to Floor's white Dodge pickup, the statement said. Leedom and Floor drove "out of Anchorage" and met up with a fourth person.

The trio dumped Albright's body at the banks of the river and then burned Albright's clothes and other possible evidence in a large fire nearby, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Upton stayed behind and tried to clean up, mopping up blood on the living room couch and floor, the detective wrote. Upton also burned any of Albright's belongings left at the residence.

Floor, taken in for questioning on Aug. 31, agreed to show detectives where to find the body, according to Cordie and the court documents. Homicide detectives found the body and the large burn pile nearby, with assistance from Alaska State Troopers and U.S. Marshals.

When arrested last week, Leedom was already in custody on theft and drug charges as well as a probation violation and an outstanding warrant, Cordie said. Floor was arrested the night of Aug. 31. Upton, originally sought on an arrest warrant, was arrested Thursday in Mountain View.

All three have been arraigned; none have entered pleas yet, said Rob Henderson, a prosecutor handling the murder case.

During Leedom's arraignment last week, Albright's parents asked the judge to set no bail at all, according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News. Brenda and Harvey Albright told District Judge Brian Clark that they felt threatened by Leedom, and that "another young woman's life is in jeopardy," the Daily News reported.

The judge set bail at $500,000 and required a third-party custodian.

Zaz Hollander can be reached at zaz.hollander.@alaskastar.com.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.