Police Followed Trail Left By Blind Poodle

PALMER, Alaska - A stack of $100 bills, secret phone conversations and a blind poodle led Alaska state troopers to an Alaska miner they think was hired as a hit man, according to documents made public in Washington state.

Alaska authorities allege Ronald Geiger was hired by Wasilla retiree Jim Wheeler to kill Robert "Hank" Dawson. Troopers say Wheeler was in love with Dawson's wife.

Both Geiger and Wheeler are in custody, charged with first-degree murder. Wheeler is held at the Mat-Su Pre-trial facility in Palmer on $1 million bail. Geiger is held as a fugitive at the Snohomish County jail in Everett, Wash., on $500,000 bail. He was arrested last week.

Records unsealed Monday at the Snohomish County Courthouse were filed by Alaska authorities seeking to search a Washington residence used by Geiger.

To obtain the warrants, Alaska authorities had to lay out much of their case against the two men they describe as old mining buddies.

According to the court documents, Geiger's girlfriend, Wilma "Fay" Badal, told Alaska troopers Geiger had worked for a man she knew only as "Jim" during October 1993.

That's the same month in which Dawson, an Alaska National Guardsman, was blown up in his pickup just inside the gates of the Alcantra armory in Wasilla.

Badal, who left Alaska less than a week after Dawson was killed and was found by troopers in California, said Geiger was highly secretive about his dealings with "Jim."

Badal described Jim as a widower who owned a blind poodle.

Wheeler, who lived across the street from Dawson, was a widower who owned a nearly blind poodle, according to trooper investigator David Churchill.

Wheeler was arrested in November after reportedly telling a friend, in a tape-recorded conversation, that he had paid someone to kill Dawson, the documents alleged. According to troopers, Wheeler said he wanted Dawson dead because he was in love with Dawson's wife, Terri.

The documents unsealed Monday indicate Wheeler told the Wasilla friend he had paid someone $13,000 to plant a bomb in the cab of Dawson's truck, then detonate it with a remote control. Wheeler wouldn't identify the bomber.

Troopers said that after Geiger was arrested last week, he told them he built a bomb for Wheeler and placed it in Dawson's truck.

Badal told troopers she saw Geiger with a wad of $100 bills before she left Alaska.