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Alaska port official charged with trying to drown daughter

January 8, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A high-ranking port official in Alaska’s largest city has been arrested, accused of twice trying to drown his 8-year-year-old daughter in a bathtub after telling her they would play with her rubber duckies.

Todd Cowles is charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with a Jan. 2 incident at his family’s Anchorage home. Online court records don’t list an attorney for Cowles, who was arrested Jan. 4.

Cowles, 46, told police he had been in great despair because he was having trouble at work, according to a criminal complaint.

Cowles is the engineer for the Port of Alaska in Anchorage. He is in charge of the port’s modernization project, which includes replacing aging and corroding docks, port spokesman Jim Jager said Tuesday. Almost half the cargo coming into Alaska goes through the port.

“This is a personal and a private tragedy,” Jager said, adding he was not at liberty to discuss the allegations. He said Cowles remains employed, but added the port is monitoring the case and will respond as appropriate.

According to the complaint, Cowles twice tried to push his daughter’s head in the bathtub while his wife was out mailing a package, stopping both times when the girl screamed and resisted. The child told her mother when she returned home, according to the complaint.

Cowles’ wife told authorities her husband had a loaded shotgun in bed in November, the same month he brought a funding proposal before the Anchorage Assembly. The woman said Cowles admitted he thought of hurting himself but couldn’t go through with it.

The complaint says Cowles was taken to a hospital for an evaluation in November. Regarding the shotgun, Cowles told police he had thought of shooting his family and then killing himself. He said he continued to have these thoughts after his hospital visit.

Cowles told police he called in sick the day after the New Year holiday because he didn’t want to go back to work. He said he had placed a filet knife, folding knife and a rope tied into a noose in a dresser drawer, and planned to stab his wife and daughter while they slept the previous night, and then kill himself, but was unable to do it.

On Jan. 2, Cowles drew the blinds after his wife left to mail the package, according to the complaint, which said Cowles planned to ambush is wife when she returned, and then hang himself. Then he coaxed his daughter to take a bath with the rubber ducky premise.

After unsuccessfully trying to push the girl’s head in the tub, Cowles turned on a movie for her, the complaint says.

“TODD explained the reason he wanted to kill his family and himself was to escape,” the document states.

Cowles is being held on $100,000 bail.

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Follow Rachel D’Oro at https://twitter.com/rdoro.

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