A set of odd circumstances surround an Anchorage woman's disappearance about a week ago, just before her east-side home burned, police said.
Detectives are looking for Susan Geraci, last seen June 5 at work and again June 6 leaving her home at Glencaren Mobile Home Park off Muldoon Road. Fire destroyed Geraci's home early the next morning, police said.
No one has reported seeing Geraci, 45, since, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.
"We don't know if she's been the victim of foul play or if she disappeared on her own," Shell said.
Geraci's coworkers at the Ramada Inn told police they saw her at work about 4 p.m. June 5. Geraci didn't call in or show up for work the next day, said her manager, Susan Kaer.
Geraci worked at the front desk and drove a shuttle for the downtown hotel, and worked at another hotel, too, Kaer said.
"I was terrified and instinctively thought something was wrong," Kaer said. "She was reliable. Even when she wasn't feeling well, you had to send her home."
Kaer described Geraci as private and very shy, to the point that she would step out of the shot whenever someone took a picture of the hotel staff at an employee party. Geraci was very attached to two bull mastiffs she recently had put to sleep, Kaer said.
A neighbor saw Geraci get into her orange Hyundai Accent and drive away from her home about 11 a.m. June 6, the day she failed to show for work, police said. About 3:30 a.m. the next day, fire destroyed the mobile home in which Geraci lived, Shell said. The home burned, and nobody was nearby or found inside, Shell said.
The charred remains of Geraci's home and belongings remained Tuesday at space No. 263, at the corner of Molly O Drive and Halligan Drive. The blaze appeared to have burned Geraci's porch to the ground and gutted the inside of her home. A note to Geraci from the park's manager, posted to the still-standing part of her home after the fire, says she has until June 23 to clean out her things before they're thrown away.
"To me, it looked like an unexpected fire. It didn't look like anything was removed from the house," said Owen Carey, the park manager.
Geraci had lived there about five years and was one of their favorite tenants, Carey said.
"I was lucky as a landlord to have her. She is just a real sweetheart," he said. "This woman would leave cookies for our entire staff, on our doorstep. We're just heartsick over here that we don't know where is."
Neighbors Travis Keene and Ally Lestenkof said it seemed like Geraci, whom the couple did not know, had moved out three or four weeks before the fire. That's the last they saw anyone at the home, about the same time two men moved a broken-down Ford Bronco, he said.
"We didn't know anybody was living there," Lestenkof said.
The couple woke up to flames shooting from their neighbor's house and seven fire trucks in the narrow street.
"It got big fast. There was nobody in there," Lestenkof said. "(The firefighters) were looking for people. They were breaking the glass, the windows, to see if anybody was in there."
When police asked Geraci's coworkers about any family she had, members of the hotel staff mentioned her two dogs, big mastiffs that she had put to sleep about a month ago, said Shell, the police spokeswoman. Shell and Kaer, the hotel manager, said one of the dogs was sick, but it was unclear why Geraci would have put down both dogs.
"They were like her children," Kaer said.
"She was just down in the dumps about the dogs," Shell said.
Geraci asked Kaer if she could keep the sick dog in a room at the hotel, but Kaer said they couldn't do that. So Geraci brought the sick dog to work for a short time, maybe two weeks, keeping it in her car in between walks, Kaer said.
"She was very close with the dogs," Kaer said.
Geraci has a boyfriend who works on the North Slope and lives in Texas, Shell said. She was making tentative plans to move there to live with him and recently sent him south with a box of her things, which included letters the man had sent her, Shell said.
Geraci's boyfriend told police he thought the letters were some kind of sign, maybe that she wanted to break up, Shell said.
"He was initially upset about it, but she said, 'No, there's nothing wrong,' " Shell said.
A detective talked to the boyfriend, and it was unclear Tuesday if future interviews with him were planned, Shell said.
Police described Geraci as 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 120 pounds with brown hair and eyes. Geraci usually drives a two-door red or orange 2009 Hyundai Accent with Alaska license plate GEE856, police said.
Anyone with information on Geraci's whereabouts is asked to call police at 786-8900.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.