Five days after what troopers are calling the suspicious death of his 74-year-old mother, a promising movie actor remained missing Wednesday in Northwest Alaska.
Teddy Kyle Smith, known for his role as a protective Inupiaq father in the award-winning film "On the Ice," vanished Friday night from his hometown of Kiana. Up to a dozen Alaska State Troopers and investigators found no sign of Smith, 45, in the following days.
"It's like a void. There is just no information about where he is. Nobody has seen him," said trooper Capt. Barry Wilson. "No one's had contact with him. As far as we know, he's not called anybody or talked to anybody."
Troopers learned of a problem in Kiana at about 8:30 p.m. Friday when the village public safety officer reported Smith had fired a gun, sending at least four people running for cover.
One man told troopers he heard a bullet "whiz by him." Three bystanders said they saw Smith raise a firearm in his right hand, point it at them and fire, according to an account filed Monday in Kotzebue Superior Court.
Authorities charged Smith with four counts of assault, saying he scared and endangered the villagers. He is not accused in the death of his mother, Dolly Smith, whose body was found around the time he fled town, troopers say.
Villagers say troopers placed the village on "lockdown" in the early hours of the search. The Kiana Friends Church, where Dolly Smith served in a leadership role, canceled some services and held a noon "time of prayer" in her honor, said Kiana resident Lori Larkin.
Dolly Smith's husband, Donald, died in June, Larkin said. Fundraising efforts are under way in the village to pay for the couple's other children to visit for Dolly's funeral, she said.
Meanwhile, troopers searching by air, boat and on the ground found no trace of Teddy Smith, Wilson said.
He was last seen headed for the woods and is considered armed and dangerous, troopers said.
"I would suspect he knows the area pretty well and is supposed to be a pretty good hunter," Wilson said.
No one has reported a four-wheeler missing, he said. Smith could be hiding out at a fish camp or with a friend, and it's possible he traveled a long distance in a short time if he had access to a boat, the trooper captain said.
By Wednesday, only one trooper remained in the village.
Home to about 375 people, Kiana is 57 miles east of Kotzebue.
It's not the first time Smith has been in trouble with the law. He pleaded no-contest to assault charges in 2000, 2003 and 2005, court records show. In 2010, he was the subject of a restraining order filed in Kotzebue court.
Larkin said Smith once worked as a village-based counselor for the regional health organization. In recent years he was fostering a budding movie career.
"I found him to be a very skilled and talented Alaskan actor," said Anchorage-based casting director Deborah Schildt, who auditioned Smith multiple times.
Smith landed a role in 2011's "On the Ice," a well-received independent film shot in Barrow by Inupiaq director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. In June 2010 he visited Anchorage to audition for the Universal Pictures film "Everybody Loves Whales," later released as "Big Miracle."
Smith spoke briefly with the Daily News during a break in the casting at Dimond Center mall, describing himself as an ex-Marine who once signed with an Anchorage talent agency in the early 1990s.
Recently, Smith told Facebook friends he'd wrapped filming on an Alaska-based independent feature, "Wildlike," on Sept. 2. Producer Schuyler Weiss declined to comment Wednesday on the actor's role in the film.
On Sept. 5, Smith wrote that he'd received two job offers and didn't know what to do.
Troopers would not talk about the apparent cause of Dolly Smith's death, citing the ongoing investigation.
By KYLE HOPKINS
Anchorage Daily News