Suspect arrested in 2000 stabbing death

Kyle Hopkins
Family members of Genevieve Tetpon listen as Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew discusses the recent arrest in the investigation of Tetpon's murder in 2000. From left is Genevieve's ex-husband Mark Tetpon, aunt, Flora Olrun and mother, Pat Fulton. The press conference was held at the Victims for Justice Memorial downtown on Friday, February 4, 2011.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News
Pat Fulton shows a photograph of her daughter, Genevieve Tetpon, to another family member. The photo was returned to the family before the start of a press conference Friday, February 4, 2011, in which police announced an arrest in the Tetpon murder case.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News

An Anchorage homicide detective was on the phone, telling Pat Fulton the news she'd waited a decade to hear.

A man had been arrested and charged in the 2000 stabbing death of her daughter, 28-year-old Genevieve Tetpon.

"I thought it was a joke. I said, 'No ... say that again?' " Fulton said Friday, just after police announced they cracked the cold case.

At about 11 a.m. Alaska time Friday, police and U.S. marshals went to the Spearfish, S.D., restaurant where Derrick Torian works and took him into custody on charges of first- and second-degree murder in Tetpon's death, police said.

A motorist spotted Tetpon's body on March 22, 2000, in the brush and snow off Arctic Valley Road. She'd been stabbed to death, an autopsy said.

Torian was a 17-year-old student at East High School at the time.

Tetpon was among a string of Alaska Native or other minority women killed on Anchorage streets in 1999 and 2000. The deaths led to demonstrations and a hunger strike by activists who sought justice for the victims and to keep their memories alive.

Some of the killings have been solved, including the 2010 admission by Joshua Wade that he murdered Della Brown 10 years before. Others are still under investigation.

Police believe Torian spent much of the past decade in Anchorage, but they have no evidence linking him to any of the other homicides, said Anchorage police Sgt. Slawomir Markiewicz.

Torian has no criminal record and there was no evidence that Tetpon had been sexually assaulted, he said.

The detective declined to talk about a potential motive in the case. The killing is still under investigation, he said, and police are looking for more information, including whether others were involved in Tetpon's death.

An Anchorage grand jury indicted Torian on the murder charges Thursday, police said.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew announced the arrest Friday afternoon at a memorial for homicide victims Downtown. Fulton, the victim's mother, stood nearby in a parka beside Tetpon's aunts and former husband.

Tetpon had children who are teenagers now and have been told about the arrest, Fulton said. "I called their mothers."

The cold-case investigation spanned four Anchorage police chiefs, Mew said. And at least three detectives.

A break came in 2009 when Det. David Cordie, newly assigned to the case, took another look at the evidence, police said.

"Ultimately what he found was that there was some items on the scene that led him to a person, a female, who ... turned out was a relative of the suspect," Markiewicz said.

Cordie won a local Detective of the Year award in 2009 for developing a lead in the case by poring over old case files and locating a vehicle associated with the crime, according to the police union website.

Markiewicz declined to talk in detail about the DNA evidence that led police to Torian.

The 28-year-old was taken into custody in Spearfish by Cordie along with local police and members of the U.S. Marshal's Office in South Dakota.

Torian was in Anchorage as recently as 2009, when he was ticketed for driving without a valid operator's license, according to court records.

He left the city sometime after police contacted him seeking a DNA sample, said Markiewicz, the homicide unit supervisor.

Fulton said that the last time she talked her daughter, Tetpon told her to be sure to get an oil change for her car. "We were supposed to meet up again, but we never did."

She has looked at people differently ever since, she said, wondering who her daughter's killer was.

Police are asking that anyone with information about the killing call Markiewicz at 786-8582 or Cordie at 786-8679.

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