Alaska State Troopers are investigating two recent cases of possible abduction and sexual assault in Fairbanks.
Fairbanks State Trooper Detachment Commander Capt. Eric Spitzer shared cursory information about the two cases, which came to the public’s attention through Facebook posts from a victim and a witness.
Spitzer said both involve Alaska Native women who were found along Chena Hot Springs Road east of Fairbanks in recent weeks. He said the first case was reported as a sexual assault on Sunday, June 13.
“The victim was able to provide some information, however, she did not have any recollection of the events that transpired,” he said. “She just found herself out in a remote area, And it took her better part of the day to get back to the Chena Hot Springs Road.”
According to a Facebook post by the victim, she had been drinking and was picked up by a man she didn’t know and taken out to Mile 28 of Chena Hot Springs Road. She later woke up in the woods.
Citing the active status of the investigation, Spitzer would not share additional case details.
“At this point, we have conducted exams and interviews and it’s still under investigation,” he said.
The other incident occurred early Saturday morning, according to a witness. Two Rivers resident Amanda Brooks said she and her boyfriend were driving near Mile 14 Chena Hot Springs Road around 1 a.m. when they saw a young woman crouched in a roadside ditch.
“We pulled over and we walked up to her and she was kind of huddled on the ground with her knees against her chest and a flannel shirt wrapped around her. And she had her hair flipped over her face. And she actually kept her hair like that the entire time so we never saw her face,” said Brooks.
Brooks said the young woman did not say what happened to her, but she did not appear to be injured. Brooks and her boyfriend flagged down a passing ambulance for help and the EMTs called troopers.
“This was maybe like a 15-minute long process,” said Brooks. “But finally, she agreed that she would go with the ambulance. And when she stood up, that’s when we realized that she was completely naked underneath her flannel.”
Brooks posted about the incident on Facebook and said she was contacted by someone in a nearby community who identified the teen as a runaway.
Spitzer, the trooper, said the young woman did not file a report
“(She) refused to cooperate with law enforcement or EMS and provide any information or any answer any questions,” he said.
Spitzer said, so far, there’s no evidence that the cases are related.
“I will tell you if we had evidence of some type of serial rapist or someone abducting anyone, if any evidence like that,” he said.
Spitzer asked anyone with information to report it directly to troopers.
“Rather than turning to Facebook and social media and pushing information out which you’re not 100% sure of, bring it to law enforcement let us investigate it and let us preserve the integrity of that investigation, rather than pushing it out for the world,” he said.
Spitzer said the cases are especially concerning given the long running epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“Missing and murdered Indigenous persons in Alaska — it’s a big, big thing. We’re aggressively pursuing this,” he said.
Spitzer advises people to be vigilant. He said the troopers have increased patrols in the area, in light of the two cases as well as recent arson fires in the Chena Hot Springs Road community of Two Rivers.