Fairbanks, AK -- Alaska State Troopers are investigating the death of an 8-year-old boy near his family's remote homestead as a homicide.
Durga Owens was reported missing and a search team found his body at 2:30 p.m. the next day in a wooded area several hundred yards from his family's home.
"This child was murdered," Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Jim McCann said. "I'm just not able to say anything further about the manner of his murder."
A preliminary autopsy was performed in Anchorage, but Alaska State Troopers were not releasing any details.
"We're not in a position or at the point in the investigation where we can do that," Lt. Steve Dunnagan said.
Troopers also wouldn't say whether they have any suspects.
Durga's body was lying uncovered when found, Dunnagan said. The child was still wearing the clothes he had on when he left the house to play in the front yard: a white "Simpsons" T-shirt, navy blue pants and a pair of sandals.
Alaska State Troopers said that an 8-year-old murder victim was fatally shot.
Capt. Mike Stickler, commander of the Fairbanks detachment, said results of a preliminary autopsy indicate that Durga Owens died from a gunshot wound.
Stickler said he would not disclose the location of the fatal wound or if the victim was shot more than once.
Owens' mother, Mary Jane, reported her son missing late Thursday afternoon after the child's older sister was unable to locate the boy on the property.
A search commenced that night on the family's homestead near 53 Mile Steese Highway. It concluded Friday afternoon when Durga's body was found in a wooded area several hundred yards from the family's cabin.
A winding dirt road slopes 2 miles uphill and leads to the remote parcel. The property's location has troopers ruling out the possibility that it was a random attack carried out by a stranger.
"We're not sure what the motive is, but it does not appear to be random," Stickler said. "We have no indication from anyone that would indicate a stranger was involved."
Stickler said troopers are tracking down several leads and still trying to narrow the focus of the investigation.
"It's fairly early in the investigation, but it's progressing satisfactorily," Stickler said. "Everyone has to be looked at and eliminated."
One of those leads involves an ongoing dispute with a neighbor, Paris D. Hutton, who lives on another remote homestead about two miles away from the Owens property.
Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Scott Waggoner said in the past the two neighbors have filed complaints against each other over possible thefts and acts of vandalism.
"To my knowledge, none of those investigations has resulted in any criminal charges being filed against either party," Waggoner said. "The other investigators are aware of the history involving minor incidents. It's part of the investigation, but exactly what part I don't know."