Port of Alaska's head engineer charged in attempted drowning of daughter

Todd Cowles at the Port of Alaska in 2015 (KTUU)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The Port of Alaska’s head engineer is facing two charges of attempted murder in the first degree, with new details emerging following the release of court documents that alleging that 46-year-old Todd Cowles attempted to drown his daughter in a bathtub.

Cowles allegedly also confirmed to investigators a plan to kill his wife and himself, attributing his actions to “trouble at work” according to the criminal complaint.

The report, written by Anchorage police detective Taylor Falvo, details the incident alleged to have occurred at Cowles home on Jan. 2.

Cowles told police that he made two attempts to drown his 8-year-old daughter by pushing her head under water, but found he was unable to follow through with the plan.

“On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest and one being the lowest, he pushed with the force or about 5 or 6,” the report states.

When Cowles’ wife returned home, she discovered the home phone unplugged from the wall, and soon learned what had happened from her daughter.

Cowles' wife then called her parents, and who helped her take Todd to Providence Hospital for treatment.

The documents say that upon returning from Providence, Cowles' wife discovered a rope tied in a noose, a filet knife and gloves in his dresser drawer.

During follow up interviews, Cowles' wife told police that in a previous incident in November, a loaded shotgun was found in Todd's bed. She said Todd reported suicidal ideation as a result of work-related stress, but couldn’t bring himself do it. Cowles “was transported to Providence for treatment. He was released the same day,” according to the criminal complaint.

Cowles' daughter told police that during the alleged incident, the amount of water inside the bathtub “was about normal level for a bath,”and that she believed her father was trying to hurt her.

APD officers visited Cowles at Providence’s psychiatric unit, but he refused to speak to police without an attorney. Later, Cowles reportedly called Det. Falvo on the phone to discuss the case, waiving his right to have legal counsel present.

“Due to this trouble with work Todd said he had been having thoughts about killing his family,” Falvo writes. During the phone conversation, Cowles divulged details about the incident in November involving the loaded shotgun, during which he reported contemplating killing his family and himself, and that those thoughts had persisted ever since his release from Providence.

Cowles told Falvo that on New Year’s Day, he’d decided to stab his wife and daughter while they slept before killing himself, but ultimately couldn’t bring himself to do it.

The following day, Cowles called out sick from work, and when his wife left home to mail a package, Cowles unplugged the landline phone and drew the blinds "so nobody could see him and to ambush" his wife when she walked in the door.

Cowles told investigators that after the failed attempts to drown his daughter, he put on a movie for her.

Cowles remains in the custody of the Anchorage Correctional Complex, as of Monday evening.

Port of Alaska Director of External Affairs Jim Jager told Channel 2 that as of Tuesday, Todd Cowles is still listed as an employee of the port, and that upper management is closely monitoring his case. Cowles' role as head engineer is chiefly related to the port modernization program to repair and restore docks which have suffered corrosion-related damage over the course of decades.

The statutory prison sentence for a single count of first degree attempted murder is between five and 99 years in prison.

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