Fort Wainwright soldier charged with murdering his wife

The back of a police vehicle
A Fairbanks Police Department vehicle (File/KUAC)

Fairbanks police have arrested a soldier from Fort Wainwright accused of killing his wife Sunday.

Police say Kayla Kugtsun, 25, was found dead at her Garden Way residence. Her husband, 24-year-old Endeavor Riley, is charged with first-degree murder.

John Pennell, a spokesman for the Army’s 11th Airborne Division, said Tuesday that Riley was a specialist assigned as a cavalry scout to the division’s 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright. Riley had joined the Army in 2017, and arrived in Alaska in September 2020.

A charging document says Riley called police and reported finding Kugtsun unresponsive early Sunday morning. He told officers he and Kugtsun had been out drinking overnight and he did not remember what happened after they got home.

Police say they found a note, which appeared to have been written by Kugtsun, saying she planned to file for divorce.

Kugtsun had bruises on her neck and an apparent skull fracture as well as other injuries. Earlier that morning she had texted her sister and others, including Riley’s superiors, about being assaulted by him.

Police say neighbors in an upstairs apartment reported hearing the couple arguing and loud noises.

Pennell declined to comment on whether anyone in Riley’s chain of command had received any messages from Kugtsun or taken any actions in response, citing the ongoing investigation.

Kugtsun was a University of Alaska Fairbanks student and employee. A letter from UAF chancellor Dan White to the university community says Kugtsun had previously earned a business degree and was a student at the Community and Technical College while also working for UA human resources.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to cover Kugtsun’s funeral expenses.

Alaska Public Media’s Chris Klint contributed information to this story.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

Previous articleSitka teen’s ‘need for speed’ gives her rubric for solving Rubik’s Cubes
Next articleIn secret recordings, a top Anchorage library official calls Alaska Natives ‘woke’ and ‘racists’