ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When 36-year-old Weston Gladney’s body was found near a trail in the Jim Creek area on Dec. 2, his body had been burned so badly, it was almost unrecognizable. Gladney’s older brother, Bruce Hawthorne, says the only way investigators were able to identify the body was with one remaining fingerprint.
“One tiny fingertip. That’s the only reason they even knew who he was,” Hawthorne said.
Investigators say Gladney was fatally shot inside a house on South Heather Meadows Loop in Anchorage on the night of Nov. 27. His body was then moved outside the city and burned. It wasn’t until Dec. 2 that a passerby discovered the remains and reported them to Alaska State Troopers.
“It wasn't just a shooting and then they just dumped him off. They went and turned him on fire. They burned him for hours and hours,” said Hawthorne. “I don't understand why somebody would do something so immaculately horrible.”
Six people have since been arrested on various charges related to the homicide. They are Joseph Ahuna, Brian Scheele, Paulette Kane, Helen Them, Jeffrey Enosa and Shawn Phillips. Gladney’s exact relationship with each of the defendants remains unclear. According to Hawthorne, Gladney and Them had a daughter together, however Gladney had recently learned that he was not in fact the girl’s biological father.
Furthermore, court documents say that Kane had recently accused Gladney of raping her. But Hawthorn says those allegations are “completely false.”
Gladney had been incarcerated at Spring Creek Correctional Center until Nov. 3. Hawthorne says he met with his brother shortly after his release to give him some new clothes. He said Gladney was in good spirits at the time.
Court documents say Brian Scheele picked Gladney and Them up on the night of Nov. 27 and drove them to his house on South Heather Meadows Loop. Hawthorn says the 27th happened to be Gladney’s birthday, and he was brought to the home on the pretense of having a get-together with friends.
Waiting at the home were Kane, Ahuna, and Enosa along with several other people. When Gladney stepped into the garage, Enosa is accused shooting him with a handgun. Gladney’s body was then said to be loaded into Ahuna’s white minivan and driven away.
As the murder case heads to trial, Hawthorn says Gladney’s death has been devastating to his many friends and loved ones. He’s being remembered as a person of energy and spontaneity. “This kid was energetic, energy galore. He knew how to make friends so fast. Like a butterfly, he could make friends so fast with anybody,” Hawthorne told Channel 2.
“He was my little brother. I taught him how to ride a bicycle, I taught him how to fix a bike. We drove together, I taught him how to drive stick shift.”
Hawthorn admits that his brother struggled with drugs and has had several run-ins with the law in his lifetime, struggles he says began with a tough childhood.
“Weston had a difficult life,” Hawthorn said. “He just had to grow up a lot in the system from a young age. That’s the truth. You’re only as good as your teacher.”