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- May. 19, 1984 -

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Alaska State Troopers Patch
Resided: AK, USA
Born: Jul. 05, 1949  
Fallen: May. 19, 1984
Race/Sex: Caucasian Male / 34 yrs. of age
Dept: Alaska State Highway Patrol
Dept. Type: State/Police
Hero's Rank: Trooper
Sworn Date: 8/1981
FBI Class: Homicide - Ambush
On The Job: 3 years
Bio: Troy Lynn Duncan, 34, was born on July 5, 1949, in San Saba, TX, Troy E. and Ann Kirby Duncan. He was one of three children (Troy, Vicki and Keith). Duncan's roots in Central TX go back more than 150 years as his great, great grandfather, Larkin Payne, in the 1830's became one of the first white settlers in the area near Lometa and Goldthwaite, TX, which became known as Payne's Gap. Larkin Payne was killed in 1863 by Comanche Indians as he herded sheep. A memorial marker to Payne is located in a field near the old cemetery and schoolhouse at Payne's Gap (3 miles from Moline, TX). The land homesteaded by Payne was still owned by members of Troy Duncan's family in 1998 as it had been for more than 150 years.

Troy's maternal great-grandfather, Andrew J. Kirby (1839-1911) settled in the Lometa area in 1876 after serving in Company B, 17th TX Infantry of the Confederate Army from 1862-1865. His property was maintained by his son J.C. Kirby (1896-1992) as his homestead until 1990. That property was owned in 1998 by James D. McLean and his wife, Vicki Duncan McLean (the sister of Troy Duncan).

Troy was raised and educated in Lometa, TX (Lampasas County), a small town about 75 miles northwest of Austin, TX.. He graduated from Lometa H.S. in 1967 as valedictorian of his class and was a star (All-West TX) football player (defensive lineman). He attended Abilene Christian College for two years on a football scholarship and then transferred to the U. of TX at Austin where he graduated in 1971.

While attending the U. of TX Troy was in the ROTC program and, after graduation, joined the U.S. Marines. He thus followed a family tradition of military service as his grandfather, Thomas L. Duncan (1896-1975), served in the U.S. Army (3rd Div., 142nd Infantry) during World War I and his father, Troy E. Duncan, served in the U.S. Merchant Marines during World War II. Troy Lynn Duncan served in the Marines for ten years, 1971 to 1981, serving in Quantico, VA, FL, NC, CA, and AK.

Capt. Troy Duncan was stationed at Ft. Richardson near Anchorage in 1979 as served for 2 & years as the Marine Corps liaison officer with the 172nd Infantry Brigade. He was involved in "Cold Weather Training and Development" when he decided to leave the military. He was discharged as a captain in 1981.

Duncan decided to remain in AK since he had enjoyed his 2 & years there. A close friend, Jeff Hall, an AK State Trooper convinced Troy to become a trooper and he did so on Aug. 31, 1981. He graduated with the 35th Recruit Class at the Trooper Academy in Sitka in 1981 and was a 3-year veteran at the time of his death.

Trooper Duncan was first assigned to the small community of Livengood and then to Fairbanks where he volunteered for the S.E.R.T. team, "an assignment beyond his regular patrol duties," in 1983. The S.E.R.T. specialized in manhunts, sieges and other dangerous confrontations" and was kept on alert 24 hours a day. The Fairbanks S.E.R.T. was one of two 10-man groups maintained in the state--the other being based in Anchorage. Shortly before his death, Duncan told his father in TX that he was "doing what he wanted to do" and that "I should be paying these people to do this job, I enjoy it that much." He reported to his father that his S.E.R.T. team had recently raided the Hell's Angels and that he had been "the one to kick open the door."

In a different vein, Trooper Duncan was chosen as a member of the special escort team for the May, 1984, visit to AK of Pope John Paul II. Duncan was 6'3" and 230 lbs. and was a "fitness enthusiast," frequently working out with weights and jogging and staying in "perfect physical shape." In his "spare time" he collected guns and practiced shooting and enjoyed cross-country skiing. He was also known for his "good humor" and was a "welcome sight around trooper headquarters" because "he always had a joke to tell" and "his unique sense of humor lifted spirits and morale."

Survived by:
Judy C. Windham - Wife

his son, Jeffrey Lynn Duncan, 10, and daughter, Tracey Leigh Duncan, 12, of Fredericksburg, MD (where they lived with his first wife, Sharon); his father, Troy E. Duncan, 58, of Lometa, TX; his brother, Keith Duncan, 28, of Lometa, TX, and his sister, Vicki Duncan McLean, 32, of Killeen, TX.

Fatal Incident Summary
Offender: Michael C. Silka
Location: AK   USA   Sat. May. 19, 1984
Summary: AK State Trooper Troy Lynn Duncan, 34, was shot and killed near Manley Hot Springs on May 19, 1984, in a trooper helicopter that was "swooping in" to capture a fugitive serial killer. The fugitive was immediately shot and killed by another trooper in the helicopter in a case covered heavily by the media. Duncan became the fifth AK State Trooper killed in the line of duty since the (parent) agency was created in 1941.

The troopers had been on a two-day manhunt for Michael C. Silka, 25, who was suspected in the disappearance and likely murder of 9 people. Silka had arrived in Manley six days earlier but was already a suspect in the disappearance of a man in Fairbanks. He had arrived in Fairbanks in late April, driving an old car with a canoe tied to the roof. He appeared to "have all of his worldly possessions" in the car including an arsenal of guns, mostly rifles. Silka rented a cabin on Chena Pump Road near the cabin of Roger Culp, 34, at Mile 4.7.

Culp was soon reported missing and Silka was the prime suspect in his disappearance. Troopers searched Silka's cabin and found blood stains on the porch which later tested to be human blood. They talked briefly with Silka who told them the blood stains were from an animal he had killed. The officers ran a records check through the AK Judicial Information System but there were no outstanding warrants in the files. Ironically, there was a warrant for his arrest in IL on a charge of failure to appear in court but that warrant was not on the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC).

Around May 1 the troopers returned to the cabin with a warrant for Silka's arrest but he had apparently fled. An alert for Silka and his car was given to all police agencies in the state who were told to be on the lookout for Silka (and Culp in case he was not dead). Unfortunately, "public notices" warning of Silka were not published until after he killed the seven persons at Manley. Manley residents would later express anger at this delay.

On May 11 a citizen spotted Silka's car by the Elliott Highway, 30 miles from Manley (near Livengood or Minto). The two passengers with him in the front seat also were discovered later to have disappeared and thus his known number of possible victims at this point was three.

On May 13 Silka showed up at Manley, "a community of 150 people located at the end of the Elliott Highway," about 100 miles west of Fairbanks and parked at the Tanana River landing, about three miles from town. Silka hung around Manley for six days (sleeping in his car) and most residents thought him strange but did not think he was violent. Manley told the residents that he was going to stake out a homestead near Lake Minchumina where a federal homesteading program had been opened. Residents also reported that he had seemed obsessed with his long knife and with getting a permanent fund dividend check.

Manley residents also described Silka as an "end of the roader" meaning that he was "a loser with no place to go and no money to do anything when he gets there, someone who drifts aimlessly till he reaches the end of the road and can't drift any farther." However, Troopers would later point out that Silka did not match that stereotype as seemed to have money and a goal (homesteading).

On Thursday, May 17, between 2:00PM and 4:00PM, six Manley residents went to the Tanana River landing at Manley and by the next day it became apparent that all six were missing. The six included three men and a husband and wife and their 3-year-old child. The residents feared that they had all been killed at the river landing and their bodies thrown into the river. The troopers were called and when residents described the stranger in town to them they recognized him as Silka. An investigation at the river landing where Silka had camped for several days revealed some blood and evidence that bodies might have been dragged to the river and "dumped" there.

Troopers and residents of Manley would later theorize that Silka may have killed two of the males first (perhaps in an angry confrontation) and then killed the other five as they showed up as he was disposing of the bodies. In other words, five of the seven killed at the landing may have been killed to "eliminate witnesses."

Troopers would later determine that Silka fled up the river around 4:00PM after killing the seven persons at the landing. However, it appears that he returned to the landing, perhaps planning to flee in his car. He "ran into" at least two other Manley residents at this point who were looking for missing family members but he left them alone and then again fled up the river around 10:30PM.

Around 1:00AM on May 19 an intensive manhunt began for the fugitive whom police believed had killed as many as 9 persons. The search team consisted of "more than a dozen" troopers and included two helicopters. The search continued through the early morning hours and into the afternoon when another man, Fred Burke, a trapper who lived "up river," turned up missing. Burke and his riverboat were missing. It was later theorized that Burke had arrived at the landing in his boat as the last of the six bodies had been thrown into the river and was killed by Silka as he prepared to step ashore. Thus Manley killed a total of seven persons at the landing.

Around 3:00PM on Saturday, May 19, 1984, Silka was spotted 10 miles upriver from Tanana and 25 miles southeast of Manley by a trooper Piper Super Cub. The pilot made a low pass to get a good look and was certain that he had spotted Silka in Burk's riverboat (with an aluminum canoe tied to the back) heading up the Zitziana River, a tributary of the Tanana.

Troopers who had been searching through the night and were resting at Manley were notified of the sighting and rushed to the site where the fugitive had been spotted. Trooper Duncan and three other troopers were riding in a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter and "zoomed" to the site along with a second helicopter. The Piper Super Cub was also at the scene.

Silka had pulled his boat ashore and was "lying in wait" for the approaching helicopter. The fugitive knew the wind was blowing from the north and that the helicopter had to come in from the south. He chose his ambush spot and waited. The troopers did not know that Silka was a "decorated" sharpshooter while serving in the Army and that he had worked on helicopters in the Army and new how they operated and landed. Troopers would later theorize that Silka "didn't want to escape" as he could have fled through the thick trees. He evidently decided to make his "last stand" on the beach, perhaps hoping to "down" the helicopter and then kill its occupants once it crashed.

The Piper fixed wing aircraft circled the area as did the two helicopters as they had lost sight of Silka. The troopers wanted to "get a visual" on Silka and thus Duncan's helicopter moved in closer in an attempt to locate the fugitive. The four troopers on Duncan's helicopter, led by Fairbanks Detachment Commander, Capt. Donald Lawrence, were members of the Special Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.). They removed both doors on the left side of the chopper so that troopers Duncan and Jeff Hall, armed with automatic weapons, would have unobstructed positions to fire at the man on the ground if needed. At 5:20PM, the pilot, Tom Davis, turned the helicopter with the open left side towards the suspected position of the fugitive and descended to within 15 feet of the ground and 50 feet of the fugitive's suspected position.

As the helicopter hovered at the scene, the troopers spotted Silka "crouching behind a leaning tree on the slough's bank." Suddenly, Capt. Don Lawrence, shouted "He's pointing at us. He's going to shoot." Silka then fired two shots from his Sturm and Ruger lever-action .30-06 rifle at the helicopter. One bullet struck Duncan in the "neck just below the left side of his jaw" and small shell fragments also cut into Lawrence's head. Silka's second shot also hit the chopper but missed the troopers. One bullet fired by Silka narrowly missed hitting the controls of the helicopter which would have likely "brought it down."

Trooper Hall immediately fired at Silka with his M-16 loaded with tracer ammunition "allowing him to watch his bullets strike their targets." He emptied his 20-round magazine at Silka and "got him with his first burst." Silka "went down" and "spun to the ground, landing with his head in the water and his feet tangled in a line of the riverboat."

Pilot Davis "slowly moved his helicopter closer to see Silka's body lying prone on the wet sand" when Lawrence shouted that they had "taken a hit" and "had to get an emergency evacuation." The pilot headed back for Manley hoping that a trooper plane there could get Duncan to a hospital in Fairbanks in time to save his life.

Pilot Davis, who flew helicopter combat missions in Vietnam, later said the scene at the river "was just like Vietnam." The second Trooper helicopter landed and troopers got out and approached Silka from the ground only to find him dead, "shot twice in the head, twice in his right leg and once in his right arm."

The helicopter with Duncan aboard rushed back to Manley arriving at 6:04PM and then took off for Fairbanks. However, Duncan was dead before they reached Fairbanks.

Disposition: Trooper Hall immediately fired at Silka with his M-16 loaded with tracer ammunition "allowing him to watch his bullets strike their targets." He emptied his 20-round magazine at Silka and "got him with his first burst." Silka "went down" and "spun to the ground, landing with his head in the water and his feet tangled in a line of the riverboat." . . . killed during incident

Source: Book       Excerpted in part or in whole from Dr. Wilbanks book-


By Dr. Wm. Wilbanks FL International University

To be published by Turner Publications in early 1999

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