Ketchikan suspect charged with attempted murder after bound man claims he escaped car

The Ketchikan state courthouse
Ketchikan’s state courthouse (Eric Stone/KRBD)

A 33-year-old man was indicted by a Ketchikan grand jury Thursday on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and assault.

The charges stem from an encounter earlier this month in which law enforcement officers say Nathan Ta’ala beat, kidnapped and threatened to cut another man’s throat.

According to a charging document against Ta’ala, Alaska State Trooper Lt. Nick Zito said he witnessed a man running down a main road north of Ketchikan on July 7. He was near the 4000 block of the North Tongass Highway, bloodied with duct-taped hands and was getting in the way of traffic.

The man was wearing a bloody shirt with visible wounds and told the trooper that Ta’ala was trying to kill him. The man said Ta’ala had hit him in the head with a splitting maul, dragged him by the neck with a ratchet strap and threatened to cut his throat with a butcher knife. He said Ta’ala cut his head with the knife, charges say.

The man said Ta’ala then covered his head with a hood, taped his hands together and forced him into his car. The man was able to escape the vehicle and ran through traffic until troopers found him.

The charges says that the man “looked to his left and he was able to exit the vehicle and escape.” It also says the man had been trying to escape from Ta’ala for around 45 minutes.

Responders observed wounds that aligned with the man’s statements. Ketchikan Police Department officer Kevin Manabat also noted that the man was bleeding from his head, and had a swollen neck caked with blood.

The charging document did not mention how Ta’ala and the man knew each other, or any motive for the alleged kidnapping.

Ta’ala was initially held on two counts of second-degree assault, plus one count each of third-degree assault and kidnapping. The attempted-murder charge was added Thursday.

Court records show Ta’ala has prior convictions for a felony DUI, as well as several misdemeanor assaults dating back to 2016. He was in custody at the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

He is being represented by attorney Deborah Macaulay, who did not return a phone call on Friday. 

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