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Police seek public help in finding barista

Michelle Theriault Boots
Samantha Koenig was abducted from Common Grounds Espresso last Wednesday evening at the end of her shift as a barista. Anyone with information on Koenig's whereabouts is asked to call police at 786-8900.
Koenig family
Assemblyman Paul Honeman, left, and James Koenig, right, father of kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, address a crowd of volunteer searchers gathered near the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand along Tudor Road before they fanned out across Anchorage to help search for the missing teenager on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Jeremy Canaday helps search for the kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in an industrial area south of Tudor Road, as dozens of volunteer searchers fanned out across Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
James Koenig, right, father of kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, and Anchorage assemblyman Paul Honeman, right, address a crowd of volunteer searchers gathered near the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand onTudor Road before they fanned out across town to help search for the missing teenager on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Dozens of volunteers helped search for kidnapped barista Samantha Koenig, 18, in Anchorage on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Koenig was abducted while working at the Common Grounds Espresso coffee stand on Tudor Road on Feb. 1.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

Detectives and searchers looking for Samantha Koenig sought information and canvassed city streets Monday, more than five days after the 18-year-old disappeared.

The Anchorage Police Department announced that detectives want to hear from anyone who was in the parking lot of the Alaska Club on Tudor Road when police say she was kidnapped while working at a Midtown coffee stand the night of Feb. 1.

The detectives, who say they believe she was abducted by a lone man, are looking for information from people who were in the vicinity of 630 E. Tudor Road, where Common Grounds Espresso is located, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the night of Koenig's disappearance.

Those with information should call 786-2460, said APD spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.

Several dozen friends and family members of Koenig continued a search on foot and in cars after meeting at Common Grounds Monday afternoon, blanketing area businesses and schools with fliers.

Meanwhile, the attorney of a man against whom Samantha Koenig sought a restraining order in November says his client is being harassed by people who believe he was involved in her disappearance.

Attorney Rex Butler said his client, Christopher Bird, has been the target of online speculation.

Bird has spoken to police but is not considered a suspect or person of interest, Butler said.

"People from out of state who don't even know him have been assuming that he had some sort of role in this young lady's disappearance and nothing could be further from the truth," Butler said.

Parker, the police spokesman, said as of Monday detectives had not named Christopher Bird -- or anyone else -- as a suspect or person of interest in the case.

Less than two months before police say she was kidnapped, Samantha Koenig filed a request for a restraining order saying she was in "fear of death of physical injury" from Bird after he had allegedly sexually assaulted her.

In the civil protective order request, filed Nov. 15, Koenig wrote that she was at Bird's Anchorage home when he tried to force himself on her. He then allegedly sexually assaulted her, she wrote.

She requested the 20-day sexual assault civil protective order but, according to the file, left a hearing before the magistrate heard the matter. The order was not issued.

Bird was never charged with a crime and it's unclear whether Koenig ever reported the alleged assault to the police.

When asked about the November allegations against Bird, Parker, the police spokesman, said he was unable to comment because of a law that bars police officials from identifying victims of sexual assault.

Butler said there was nothing to the allegation.

Bird, meanwhile, was in court Monday on another matter stemming from a January allegation of an assault on a bouncer at the Anchor Bar in downtown Anchorage. The charge was dismissed Monday because there wasn't enough evidence to point to an assault, said municipal prosecutor Cindy Franklin.

Reached by phone Monday, Bird said that he was "mentally exhausted and stressed" and concerned that his name was being ruined.

Sexual assault civil protective orders were designed to close a legal loophole that had, in the past, prevented victims from seeking restraining orders against people they were not in a domestic relationship with, Parker said.

They are somewhat rarely used, Franklin said. A filing for a sexual assault civil protective order does not necessarily mean a criminal case will be filed in conjunction, Franklin said. The civil and criminal systems are separate.

SEARCH CONTINUES

Members of Samantha Koenig's family on Monday said they were continuing to search for her.

"We're missing a wonderful, great girl that needs to come home to us," said her aunt Pam Koenig Garner.

Samantha's father James Koenig, who has been fielding local and national media calls while organizing search efforts, said he had slept five hours in the past five days.

He's had custody of Samantha since she was small, he said.

As a child, she practiced karate and was interested in music. Samantha and her father spent time camping, fishing, four-wheeling and shooting, he said.

"She's probably a better shot than I am," Koenig said.

After attending West Anchorage High School, she transferred to the Anchorage Vocational Academic Institute of Learning, an alternative program. She did not finish, her father said.

She worked at the House of Harley Davidson and Sea Galley before getting her job at Common Grounds Espresso.

Her father said was worried about her working alone at the coffee stand from the beginning. The set-up always seemed vulnerable to him, he said.

"If I had my way I'd do away with all those coffee shops on the roadside," he said.

His hope was that she would instead enroll in a job training program at the Southcentral Foundation and start her career there.

But Samantha was determined to take the job, which would pay for her truck and insurance.

"She's young," he said. "She wanted the tips for gas money."

Long-term, she had been contemplating becoming a veterinarian or joining the Navy, he said.

"She has goals," he said. "She's got a good head and she's a smart kid."

Koenig and a growing cadre of volunteers have been blanketing the city with fliers and ribbons with Samantha's face on them.

Police say they're continuing to follow leads that have been pouring in from callers.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
Anchorage Daily News