APD asks for public’s help with unsolved 2020 homicides

Most cases closed, but handful remain open
Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 12:23 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While most Anchorage homicide cases from the year 2020 are considered closed by the Anchorage Police Department, several remain open, and APD believes the public could still help solve them.

“In most cases, we have an idea of what has happened,” said Sgt. Bianca Cross of the APD Homicide Unit. “Sometimes, there’s just little bits of information that are missing that can be filled in by the public.”

APD on Thursday announced murder and homicide charges against an Anchorage woman for a November 2020 killing that left a five-year-old boy – confirmed by police to be her relative – dead. Just before the new year, APD announced the arrest of a man in connection with a double-homicide that took place off 15th Ave. on Oct. 31, 2020.

Four different cases, however, of the 18 recorded last year remain open, according to APD. Those figures do not include any Anchorage officer-involved shootings, three of which were fatal.

The earliest homicide in 2020 that remains unsolved is the death of 23-year-old Monica Jefferies on July 9. Jefferies was fatally shot, police said, with her body found near the 3100-block of Cheechako St. Police said back in the summer that Jefferies appeared to have been shot following some sort of altercation in a parking lot.

Chantha Vannarath, 56, was found dead in the Russian Jack Park neighborhood on Sept. 25. His body was discovered in a wooded area near the intersection of Pine St. and Reka Dr. Police at one point named a person of interest in the case.

On Nov. 21, 38-year-old Jared Ward was discovered in the same neighborhood, near the 4600-block of E. 4th Ave, with fatal gunshot wounds in his upper body.

Russell Matt Sr., 56, was killed on Dec. 12 and found near the 1200-block of Boston St. Police said little, only noting that Matt died of “trauma to the upper body,” and said a few hours after announcing the discovery of his body that Matt’s death was being investigated as a homicide.

All four cases are still considered open and unsolved, though police said that in each one of these homicides, there is someone out there who knows something and could be the key to cracking a case.

“As far as the public goes, there’s always, always something they can give us,” Cross said. “They may not know, but if they’re in that area and they saw something they didn’t think was relevant, we’d still like to hear about it. It may tie into something we already know.”

The pursuit is work that continues, well into the new year, and while the department said it’s faced many challenges throughout 2020 and into 2021, it hasn’t stopped working for justice.

“We like face-to-face contact with families, suspects, witnesses,” Cross said, “but some people just aren’t comfortable right now, which we understand. So we’ve been a little deterred by those, but we’re still working the way we did before. We’re still there.”

Five homicide cases from 2018 and eight from 2019 are not yet closed, according to APD data.

You can always submit tips to police by dialing 311, or by contacting Anchorage Crime Stoppers. Anonymous tips can be submitted to that group by calling (907) 561-STOP.

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