Anchorage police charge brothers in Chelsea Inn homicide, one still at large

A dark-haired man with a slight goatee faces the camera in what appears to be a driver's license photo.
Anchorage police announced Dec. 15 they are looking for 26-year-old Jacob Pouli Jr., seen in this 2006 photo. (Anchorage Police Department)

Anchorage police have charged two brothers with murder in the October shooting death of a hotel employee trying to protect a woman, according to a charging document.

Only one of the homicide suspects, 31-year-old Josiah Pouli, is in custody. Police are still looking for 26-year-old Jacob Pouli Jr.

Jacob Pouli Jr. is described as 5-foot-11, 200 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

The brothers are charged with killing Chelsea Inn employee Duane Fields, who helped stop one of the men from hitting a woman in a hallway at the Spenard hotel on Oct. 21, the charges say.

A girl embraces her much bigger dad in a hug
Duane Fields and his daughter Dajanee (Courtesy Fields family)

Related: Cleared of quarantine charges, Anchorage man dies after being shot at Anchorage Hotel

According to a narrative filed with the charges against the Poulis, here’s what happened:

Detectives were following several threads of investigation following Fields’ shooting, including looking at security camera video that showed a white Tesla sedan.

Through interviewing people at the scene, detectives eventually found the woman Fields had been trying to protect. She told them Jacob Pouli had approached her earlier that day at a West Anchorage business looking for someone, and when the woman said she didn’t know where to find him, Pouli allegedly struck her and then took her against her will to the Chelsea Inn, where he believed they would find the man.

The charges say Jacob Pouli drove her in a green Buick sedan, and the woman told detectives that Pouli’s friends followed behind in a white Tesla sedan.

When they got to the hotel and went inside, the woman said Jacob Pouli started yelling obscenities at her and hitting her. A man stepped in to defend her, and that man and Duane Fields were eventually able to force Pouli out of the hotel.

The woman stayed inside, and she said she saw Jacob Pouli outside talking on a cell phone. Then the white Tesla pulled up, and several men — including Josiah Pouli — got out and walked toward the hotel.

Another witness said Fields had gone to the front door to make sure it was locked. That’s when the shooting started. Fields was hit. Responding medics found him still breathing but pronounced Fields dead a few minutes later.

Detectives later got an anonymous tip that the Pouli brothers had been involved in the shooting. Working with an FBI agent, they then used cell tower data to show that phones belonging to both brothers had been at the hotel at the time of the shooting, as well as Josiah Pouli’s white Tesla Model 3, also equipped with mobile data technology.

While still piecing together the evidence from the data collection, police stopped Josiah Pouli and brought him in for an interview Oct. 28. He didn’t say much, and they apparently did not have probable cause yet to arrest him.

That’s all according to the charges against the Pouli brothers filed Dec. 10. In a written statement, police say detectives arrested Josiah Pouli on Dec. 11.

Police say Jacob Pouli Jr. is still at large.

Fields had appeared in news stories earlier this year, when federal prosecutors charged him with violating a court quarantine order, a charge they dropped when Fields showed he had been misled about where to quarantine.

Fields overcame that obstacle — just one in a series of ups and downs in 2020 — but still wound up dead, allegedly at the hands of the Pouli brothers.

While the criminal case against them continues, Fields’ death marks the end of his journey from ex-con to hero, his family said.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org.

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