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Hiker Arraigned on Murder Charge

August 11, 1999

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) _ A camper rescued from Carlsbad Caverns National Park says he killed a companion to end his suffering after the two became lost in the desert and ran out of water, authorities said.

Raffi Kodikian of Boston was charged with murder in the death of David Coughlin of Millis, Mass., Sheriff M.A. ``Chunky″ Click said Tuesday.

``The cause of death is stab wounds to the chest _ two stab wounds in the left side of the chest,″ said Tim Stepetic of the state Office of the Medical Investigator.

Kodikian, freed on $50,000 bond, was found by rescuers Sunday in a lean-to about two miles from the park visitors center, apparently suffering from dehydration and exposure.

He and Coughlin, both 26, had arrived at the park Aug. 4 and obtained a two-day camping permit, Click said.

Park ranger Lance Mattson asked where his companion was, and Kodikian said he’d killed him to put him out of his misery, Click said. Coughlin’s body was found buried in a shallow grave nearby.

Medical examiners were still testing Coughlin’s body to determine the extent of dehydration. Even those tests may not determine whether Coughlin was dying before he was killed, Stepetic said.

Coughlin was heading west to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he wanted to pursue a master’s degree in environmental science. Kodikian went along for the trip.

``They were best friends for ages. They were very, very close,″ said Sandy Hobson, a co-worker of Coughlin’s. ``We were thrilled Raffi was going to go with him so he wouldn’t have to drive alone.″

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