Sunday killing marks 2 dozen Anchorage homicides in 2017

Anchorage police say the city has had its 24th homicide of the year, after a suspicious death Sunday.

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According to police, that’s only one fewer than this time last year — which had the most homicides on record for Alaska’s largest city.

Police are releasing few details about the woman found dead recently in the city’s Government Hill neighborhood. Police say a family member discovered her body inside their home and called 911 about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

Police spokesman MJ Thim said Tuesday detectives are not yet releasing the woman’s name, pending notification of her next of kin.

Thim said the woman and her killer knew each other, which he said points to an isolated incident. He said police are also not ready to say publicly how she died or why other family members in another part of the home at the time apparently didn’t know what had happened or, for some reason, did not call for help.

“They were in other rooms, and they weren’t injured,” Thim said. “We interviewed them, whether or not they witnessed it, what was happening or not, we’re trying to get all the stories about what went down in that apartment.”

Thim also declined to say whether the potential witnesses were children or adults. He said detectives have received numerous calls after putting out a call to the public seeking more information and personal surveillance camera footage from the area.

Meantime, Thim said Anchorage police have connected many of the city’s recent homicides to drugs.

Thim said the police department — under relatively new Police Chief Justin Doll — has reactivated its Vice and Community Policing units amidst what could be another record-breaking year for murder in Anchorage.

“If you’re not involved in crimes such as drugs, then you are relatively safe in this city,” Thim said. “Most of them have been determined to be drug-related, so that’s why we’re confident in saying these aren’t random crimes at the moment.”

Anchorage police also announced Tuesday a new unit at the department: The Community Relations Unit, which Thim now heads.

Chief Doll said in a written statement that, “Community relations are a critical component to this department’s success in fighting crime,” and that the new team will, “ensure APD remains connected to the community it protects and keeps safe.”