New rural Alaska law enforcement initiative helps nab Napakiak sexual assault suspect

An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.
An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. (KNOM file photo by Matthew F. Smith)

In October, Alexie Michael ran away from Napakiak after hearing that the U.S. Marshals Service had teamed up with local law enforcement to bring him into custody. First he fled into Bethel, then Anchorage and then to Palmer, where he was finally arrested on Nov. 19. Michael, age 65, faces seven counts of sexual assault in the first

A new initiative helped catch Michael. It’s called the Rural Alaska Anti-Violence Enforcement Working Group, or RAAVEN for short. Deputy U.S. Marshal Rochelle Liedike says that the group was created after U.S. Attorney General William Barr released funding earlier this year.

“There have been more resources that have been allocated for agencies for coming out to the villages for the traveling, for the efforts that are needed, more resources have been allocated for working these types of cases,” Liedike said.

Additionally, agencies have come together to create a sex offender task force that’s made up of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Anchorage Police Department, and the Alaska State Troopers. The task force aims to locate fugitive sex offenders.

“For right now, they’ve been primarily worked in Anchorage because they just created it, but it’s also going to be a resource that’s used all over the state,” Liedike said.

Michael has been taken to the Mat-Su Pre-trial Facility. His next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26 in Bethel.