Michael Carey Presents: Homicide, Insanity, Polygamy and the Law: A Fairbanks Story.
Sponsored by the Historians Committee, Alaska Bar Association
Harold "Whitey" Mattonen and his wife Vivian lived quietly near Salcha, east of Fairbanks, in the mid-1950s. They never made the newspapers - or the police blotter - until Vivian became the co-worker of former serviceman August Roland Batts at the Civilian Club on Eielson AFB. Romance blossomed - until Whitey found out and confronted Batts with a pistol at Batts' home. By midnight of June 20, 1956, Batts was dead.
Soon enough, Whitey was on trial for killing Batts. And Vivian, to the astonishment of Whitey, was facing polygamy charges. Not only had she dated Batts, she married him.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner found the story irresistible and put it on the front page for days. Whitey's trial, replete with questions about his sanity, presented an unusual challenge to the judicial system. The outcome left just about everybody who followed the case scratching their head in confusion.
Michael Carey was born in Fairbanks. He attended Ithaca College and Duke University, where he studied history. Carey was editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News for many years and is now an ADN columnist. He also has enjoyed a ten-career in broadcasting with KAKM of Alaska Public Broadcasting.