Crime

Police release identity of man reportedly killed by friend near Baker Lake

Alexander Vanags, right, appears on a video monitor in Whatcom County Superior Court Monday. He is facing a charge of second-degree murder for the death of an unnamed friend he was camping with near Baker Lake.
Alexander Vanags, right, appears on a video monitor in Whatcom County Superior Court Monday. He is facing a charge of second-degree murder for the death of an unnamed friend he was camping with near Baker Lake. The Bellingham Herald

The man who reportedly was killed Saturday, April 13, by a friend while camping near Baker Lake has been identified as 28-year-old Mark Stebakov of Arlington, according to a press release Tuesday from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

As previously reported by The Bellingham Herald, Alexander Vanags, 29, is facing a charge of second-degree murder, according to documents read aloud at his first appearance Monday afternoon in Whatcom County Superior Court, for killing Stebakov. Vanags’ bail was set at $1 million and his arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday, April 26.

Minutes before 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, Vanags called 911 from a gas station in Snohomish County to say that he had killed Stevakov near Baker Lake in self-defense, according to court records.

Vanags told the dispatcher Stebakov was hitting his head into the ground and he grabbed what he could to defend himself, the court records state. When asked if he stabbed the Stebakov, Vanags said “Yeah I stabbed him, I thought I would die, I stabbed more than once,” according to court records.

Vanags then allegedly told the dispatcher “I’m your guy, I’m not hiding anything.”

When Vanags was contacted by a Stillaguamish tribal police officer, he had a spot of blood on the shoulder of his t-shirt, and abrasions to his hands and face, the documents state. He also had blood on his work boots, pant legs, rain pants and sweater, the records show.

Vanags told the officer he and Stevakov went camping at Baker Lake, but his friend “went crazy and attacked him,” according to court records.

Vanags told the officer he begged his friend to stop and eventually got the upper hand and stabbed Stebakov, killing him, court records state. Vanags then told the officer where their campsite was, records show. Skagit County Sheriff’s deputies assisted Whatcom deputies in searching a remote area of the Mount Baker Wilderness for the victim.

“We found the victim in a rural or wilderness campsite in the area of Baker Lake,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said, as previously reported by The Herald. “We found the crime scene and found the victim, who had been brutally murdered with an edged weapon of some kind.”

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.


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