Troopers: Chevak Man Admits to Murder of Roxanne Smart

Roxanne Smart. (Photo Courtesy of Justice For Roxanne Smart)
Roxanne Smart. (Photo Courtesy of Justice For Roxanne Smart)

Alaska State Troopers say a Chevak man has admitted to killing Roxanne Smart last summer. The announcement was made Saturday through an online dispatch that they had arrested 20-year-old Samuel Atchak, of Chevak.

Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers says investigators were waiting on lab results.

“After almost a year-long investigation we got some lab results back that had to be analyzed and after we got those results we were able to go back into the community of Chevak and do some follow-up interviews. Once we were done with the interviews we were able to make an arrest in the Roxanne Smart Homicide. I’m sure it’s been a very hard time for friends and family as they’ve waited through the course of it, but with these types of investigation we need to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way,” said Peters.

The arrest took place Friday just before 1 p.m. It followed an interview by investigators on Thursday. 19-year-old Smart was found dead outside the Chevak Health Clinic last August, with multiple stab wounds to her chest and neck.

Smart’s family and friends had been campaigning online since the time of her death to keep her case from getting cold.

During a follow-up investigation this past Thursday Troopers with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation interviewed Atchak in Chevak. According to charging documents Atchak said he placed Smart in a “choke hold” until she lost consciousness and he sexually assaulted her. But Atchak denied killing Smart at that time.

Troopers arrested Atchak Friday on charges of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree assault. During the arrest, the charging documents say, he admitted he stabbed Smart the night he sexually assaulted her. He now also faces a charge for first-degree murder.

Atchak was arraigned Saturday. He’s being held at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel without bail. His arrest comes eleven months after Smart was found dead in Chevak on August 27th, 2014.

Jessica Ayuluk, who is a resident of Chevak and an administrator for the facebook page Justice For Roxanne Smart, said through an online message Saturday she was glad to hear about the arrest.

“I’m happy and relieved that the person who did this to her is finally caught and put away. I’m more happy that her family can get closure, now,” said Ayuluk.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.