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Police identify teen assaulted and left for dead in vacant downtown house

Lisa Demer
Photo courtesy of APDJames Clinton was found unconscious in an abandoned building at the 800 block of Barrow Street Monday night, September 16, 2013.
Benjamin S. Brasch Pete Bostick, an operator with Alaska Demolition, digs out the concrete foundation of the house that was at 807 Barrow St. on Thursday afternoon, September 19, 2013. Police found 18-year-old James Clinton beaten in the basement of the house after they received an anonymous typed note. Crew members have been demolishing the house since 9:30 a.m.
Benjamin S. Brasch

The teenager assaulted and left to die in a vacant downtown house was identified Thursday by Anchorage police as James Clinton, 18.

The house at 807 Barrow Street was demolished Thursday as previously planned. It was owned by Covenant House Alaska and used by a contractor overseeing the construction of its new shelter nearby. Police say they signed off on the demolition. Covenant House plans to build a parking lot for staff on the lot.

Clinton was homeless and living in Covenant House's old downtown shelter late last year, according to a citation in a misdemeanor marijuana case against him. The case was dismissed.

The young man remained unconscious in critical condition at a local hospital on Thursday, police said in an update about the case.

"Detectives have gathered the evidence they need from the building, therefore the demolition will continue as planned," police said in a statement.

Police released his name and picture in the hope of generating leads, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said. Detectives believe he goes by a nickname, but they don't know what it is, she said.

"We are hoping that people recognize his photo and call with information about his associates and what he was doing/who he was with when he was assaulted," Shell wrote in an email.

In his Facebook profile, Clinton says he worked as an overnight stocker at Walmart and that he studied at University of Alaska Anchorage and went to Bartlett High School. He listed Inglewood, Calif., in greater Los Angeles, as his hometown.

He turned 18 in January. He is not currently enrolled at UAA, said university police chief Rick Shell. The teenager last went to public school in Anchorage in 2011, said school district spokeswoman Heidi Embley. A Walmart store manager in Anchorage said he couldn't immediately provide information.

Someone slipped a note under the door at the university police station Monday night that indicated a teenager had been beaten and left to die inside an abandoned building. University police alerted city police, who retrieved the note around 9 p.m.

Clinton's Facebook cover photo is an ode to Malcolm X. In his profile picture, he's shirtless and holding a smart phone. An Aug. 24 post on his page talked about how to get through "that time when you stop caring." Remember the important things in life, family, friends and money, he wrote. He posts in a sort of street kid shorthand. "(Be aware of those around, pass those who fake but post with the ones that keep it 100 since day 1, and do whats best for you.)"

The marijuana case came after a Dec. 29 search by an airport police officer of a stolen vehicle at the Clitheroe Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility near Stevens International Airport. The officer found a small amount of marijuana in the glove box. Clinton, then 17, was a passenger in the vehicle and said the marijuana was his, the officer wrote on the citation. Under residential address, the officer wrote "Homeless (Covenant House) 609 F St."

A prosecutor dismissed the case Feb. 1.

Anyone with information about what may have happened is asked to call Anchorage police at 786-8900. People who want to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 561-7867 or submit a tip at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com. They can still be eligible for a cash reward.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com