Four Alaska Native people missing after visiting Fairbanks in the fall

A flyer with a Missing Persons label and an image of an Alaska Native man
A image from a missing person bulletin. (Alaska Public Media)

While the search continues for four Alaska Native people who have been missing after coming to Fairbanks this fall, state officials said they don’t believe the disappearances are related.

According to a missing persons bulletin, 34-year-old Willis Derendoff arrived from Huslia, and was living at the Extended Stay Hotel off Old Airport Way. He has not been heard from since Nov. 10.

Volunteer search coordinator Peter Captain Jr. said many have joined the effort to find Derendoff.

“We have extensively searched around Fairbanks and last-known locations,” he said. “We have had some big mass searchers and family and friends continue to search.”

Captain Jr. said a recent raffle raised money for the search effort, including a private investigator who’s working on the Derendoff case as well as those of three other Alaska Native people missing in the area. Frank Minano, Debbie Nictune and Doren Sanford all went missing while visiting the Fairbanks area in the same timeframe.

The possibility has been raised that the missing were victims of a serial killer, but Fairbanks area Alaska State Trooper Lt. Jesse Carson said no evidence points to that.

“We have no indication that there’s a serial killer. In fact, the evidence in the individual cases are leading us in multiple different directions. They don’t appear to be tying together,” he said.

Carson didn’t dismiss the possibility of unrelated foul play in some cases, and pointed to possible contributing factors including alcohol or drug use and transient lifestyle. Carson said friends and relatives of the missing continued to be very cooperative with ongoing investigations.

“The information that those families can get and the people around them is so much more than we would ever be able to get contacting, going around trying to do interviews and stuff like that,” he said.

Anyone with information about the cases is asked to contact law enforcement.

The date when Willis Derendoff was last seen has been corrected.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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