Update, 12:30 p.m. Thursday:
The teenager assaulted and left to die in a vacant downtown house was identified Thursday by Anchorage police as James Clinton, 18.
The young man remains unconscious in critical condition at a local hospital, police said in an update about the case.
Detectives are still searching for information.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call Anchorage police at 786-8900. People who want to remain anonymous, and still be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, can call Crime Stoppers at 561-7867 or submit a tip at anchoragecrimestoppers.com.
Anchorage police say the tipoff that a severely beaten man was being held captive in a vacant downtown house came on a typed note slipped under the door at the university police department Monday night.
The 18-year-old victim remained in critical condition Wednesday, unconscious but breathing, at an Anchorage hospital, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.
University police passed the tip on to city police, who found the man in the basement of the residence in the 800 block of Barrow Street, Castro said. The teenager suffered severe injuries in what police believe was an assault.
There is only one house in that block. The two- story building at 807 Barrow St. is owned by Covenant House Alaska. It has been slated for demolition Thursday to make way for a parking lot, said Alison Kear, Covenant House executive director. That still is happening.
The organization, which runs a shelter and offers programs for homeless teenagers and runaways ages 13 to 20, is cooperating with police, she said. Detectives know of the planned demolition, she said.
Covenant House acquired the Barrow Street house to serve as a base for contractor Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. overseeing the construction of its new Anchorage building, at 755 A St., kitty-corner from the Barrow house, Kear said. Police may be interested in videos from cameras installed outside the new shelter, she said.
An elementary school, the Federal Building and the FBI Anchorage field office are all a few blocks from the Barrow Street house.
The new shelter just opened last month, and contractors have a short time opportunity to bulldoze the old house and build a parking lot for Covenant House staff, she said. The house was built in 1946, according to city property records.
The house's lower windows are covered with metal mesh and when construction of the new shelter was finished and it was vacated, most windows were boarded up with plywood. The doors don't show obvious evidence of a break-in by whoever was holding the 18-year-old against his will. But a couple of second-floor windows are missing panes of glass. In a corner around back, there's a small pile of trash.
The social services agency hired Guardian Security Systems for regular night perimeter patrols of the new building and the Barrow Street house, as well as more extensive checks of the old shelter on F Street, Kear said. Someone already had broken into the old shelter building, which is for sale.
"We really were taking every precaution to protect that site," Kear said.
The note left at the University of Alaska Anchorage police department may have saved the young man's life, said Castro, of the Anchorage Police Department. Police said they hope to gain more information from whoever wrote the unsigned note.
"The note writer said they couldn't live with themselves having this kind of information and not saying anything," she said. "We were thankful for getting this note because who knows if he would have died. This was one of our fears, that this could have turned into a homicide case."
The teenager doesn't seem to have been a university student, Castro said. He had an ID card on him but police still must confirm his identity, she said.
The note writer knew of the assault and may have other valuable information, she said. Police want to hear from that person, who can remain anonymous.
Detectives are actively working the case, Castro said. She couldn't say why the young man was targeted.
Anyone with information can call police at 786-8900 or can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 561-7867, police said.
Reach Lisa Demer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4390.