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Suspect Arrested in Connection with January West 23rd Arson/Homicide Case

Surveillance cameras at a gas station near the homicide scene captured footage of Jimmy Cates prior to the incident. Image released by APD

Surveillance cameras at a gas station near the homicide scene captured footage of Jimmy Cates prior to the incident. Image released by APD

The Anchorage Police Depart report that they now have a man in custody in connection with the fatal January 24th Arson fire/homicide that took place in a four-plex on the 900 block of West 23rd Street.

On Tuesday, a $550,000 warrant was issued for the arrest of 51-year-old Jimmy Dale Cates for Murder I, Murder II x2, Arson I, and Tampering with Evidence. A few hours later, Cates was taken into custody when he went to the police department to turn himself in.

It was at 1:39 am on January 24th, that Anchorage Fire and Police Departments responded to the blaze on West 24th Avenue. Because of dense smoke, officers were unable to gain entrance into the structure.

After the fire was put out by the various fire departments, the body of 57-year-old Peijun Li was discovered in the rubble. Li was identified and the cause of death was determined by the State Medical Examiner’s office as “smoke inhalation and asphyxia by strangulation.”

The investigation into the fire would determine that it had two sources of origin, one source inside the apartment itself, and another just outside the apartment building.

The next day, surveillance footage near the apartment was viewed by investigators and showed a Nissan Rogue that was associated with Cates near the scene. Another camera, at a nearby Spenard gas station would also capture imagery of Cates approximately two hours before the fire.

When interviewed in early March, Cates admitted to investigators that the image at the gas station was in fact him and that he had been there at that time. He denied however, that he had been present at the crime scene.

Vinelink shows that Cates remains in custody at the Anchorage Jail.

He was arraigned on the charges at 2:30 pm on Wednesday.