A 21-year-old Fairbanks man reportedly strangled his girlfriend to death at their College Road apartment early Saturday morning after she got mad at him for killing her dog in front of her.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Fairbanks court, Sikoya Francis-Fields tried to stage the scene to make it look as if Kayla Benjamin, 23, had died after choking on something.
Francis-Fields was arraigned Sunday on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. More charges are expected to be filed, according to Fairbanks police.
Francis-Fields called 911 at 8:24 a.m. Saturday and said he left the apartment for several hours and came home to find Benjamin unresponsive and cold to the touch, according to the complaint.
Fairbanks paramedics responded to the scene and found Benjamin's body in the bedroom. Benjamin had scratches and abrasions on her feet, ankle, face and hand as well as petechiae in both eyes and on her ears and lip. She was pronounced dead at 8:46 a.m.
Police arrived shortly after paramedics and noticed that a dog in a kennel in the living room was not moving or responding to activity. They checked on the dog and found it dead and in a state of post mortem rigor with fluid underneath it. The dog’s collar appeared to be unnaturally high on its neck, according to the complaint.
Francis-Fields seemed to go “in and out of grieving” and changed his story several times when questioned at the scene. Police found his account of events were not believable and took him to the police station, where he reportedly admitted to killing Benjamin.
According to the complaint, Francis-Fields told detectives that he and Benjamin argued about dogs urinating in the house, noisy neighbors and frustration over not getting sleep. He said he reached into the dog’s kennel, took hold of the dog’s neck and twisted it until it broke.
Benjamin became upset after Francis-Fields killed her dog in front of her. She told him to leave and pushed him down when he walked toward her. Benjamin started to walk toward the bedroom and Francis-Fields got up and grabbed her from behind in a bear hug. She struggled to get free and threw her head back, hitting him in the chin.
Francis-Fields said he moved his grip from Benjamin’s torso to her neck and applied “a lot” of pressure. He let go and Benjamin fell to the floor.
Francis-Fields said he panicked, moved Benjamin’s body from the living room to the bedroom, put headphones on her and threw her laptop to the floor in an attempt to make it look as if her death was an accident. He left the apartment about an hour later, walked toward the library and remained in that area for several hours before returning home, according to the complaint.
Francis-Fields called a family member at 8:16 a.m, then called Benjamin’s parents and told them he found her and that she was blue. He called 911 after that.
The complaint does not give information about the size or breed of the dog, but detectives believe it was under a year old, according to police spokeswoman Teal Soden.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.