Anchorage has had 25 homicides this year and nine demises remain unsolved as police issue advisory this week recommending residents to be extra aware
A rash of unsolved outdoor homicides in Alaskas largest city is putting residents on edge.
Altogether, the deaths of nine people who were killed on Anchorage roads, in parks and on isolated streets since January remain unsolved among them three cases involving two victims each.
Its terrifying, told Jennifer Hazen, a longtime resident who lives near Valley of the Moon Park, where two people were found dead early Sunday, one of them on a park bike road. Hazen strolls in the park regularly, and find some comfort in knowing the unsolved homicides occurred in the middle of the night when she wouldnt be out there anyway.
Im just really shocked about all this happening, told another resident, Yegor Christman as he strolled his dog on the motorcycle road. I guessed I lived in a pretty safe region.
Adding to the feeling of vulnerability, Anchorage has had 25 homicides this year. Thats the same number the city had for the entire year in 2015. Even though the number is high, police point out that 1995, with 29 homicides, had the highest numbers in the past two decades.
With 15 homicides since late June, police issued an unusual public advisory this week recommending residents to be extra aware of their surroundings , noting that crimes often increase at night and early in the morning.
APD wants to remind our citizens to be cautious when they are out during these hours, especially if they are in isolated regions like our parks, motorcycle roads or unoccupied streets, the police department wrote. If you plan to be out late at night, make sure you traveling with several friends and not alone.
Police chief Chris Tolley downplayed the importance of the advisory, telling police often remind the public to be safe, sometimes through a text messaging system. Earlier this year, police issued a similar security alert after a series of car break-ins and steals, Tolley told. The objective was the same in this weeks advisory: to inform the public.
This is no different, he told. We want our public to be proactive. So this is really a plea to them in their personal safety.
Three of the victims were found alone. Two of those victims had been shot, according to police, who will not say how the other seven died. They wont say what details have been shared with the families of the victims. Relatives could not immediately be reached for commentary Friday.
Police have released few details on any of the cases, saying investigators havent made any clear the linkages between the main victims. Asked if police believe a serial murderer could be on the loose, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro told police always try to determine if unsolved crimes are pertained.
The only common denominator find among the victims are that the deaths occurred outdoors, in the early hours and in isolated places.
John McCleary is a longtime volunteer with the citys Trail Watch program, which was started in 2006 after a string of assaults, mostly against women, on local roads. Trail Watch volunteers serve two purposes: to be the eyes for the police department, reporting any problems, and to create safer conditions on 300 miles of roads with such efforts as cutting down vegetation.
But McCleary, the former director of the program for the city, said he had never seen a situation with so many unsolved killings despite having been connected with city roads since the late 1970 s. He said he felt angry and frustrated that people couldnt enjoy the roads like they could ten years ago.
McClearly called the situation so abnormal. It doesnt seem like Im in the same city.
Randall Alcala strolls almost daily along the downtown Ship Creek trail, where two homicide victims were found dead in July. But those demises, even though unsolved, dont build him feel unsafe.
He simply ensure a black bear upon the road about a week ago, and is more leery of run-ins with one of the citys hundreds of bears.
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