Man wanted for August beating death in Anchorage

Casey Grove

More than two months since an Anchorage man's beating death, police and prosecutors are still looking for a suspect indicted under the name "John Doe."

A grand jury handed up manslaughter charges against the man and his alleged accomplice, Thomasina Richardson-Henry, on Oct. 25. Richardson-Henry, 48, had already been jailed on a first-degree assault charge in the August altercation with Timothy Backus, 53, that left Backus unconscious in a hospital. He died days later.

As of Thursday, John Doe was still on the loose, Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion said.

"We're looking for him," Campion said.

According to the charges against Richardson-Henry, she and Backus had been living together for about three years. They had a fight Aug. 17, and Backus left the East Seventh Avenue home, the charges say.

"There had been difficulties in the relationship," Campion said.

Richardson-Henry told police later that Backus was the one causing trouble and that he was not supposed to return, the charges say.

But Backus did return, at about 11 p.m., and he let himself in, the charges say. Another man was there. Things turned violent.

Richardson-Henry told police the man's name was James Jones, according to the charges. Campion said that might have been a false name.

The man and Richardson-Henry confronted Backus at the home, and the other man punched Backus in the face, according to the charges. Richardson-Henry said she hit Backus over the head with a piece of wood, knocking him unconscious.

It was a roughly 18-inch-long section of wood, which police recovered later, Campion said. The man dragged Backus out the front door, where police found him bleeding, the charges say.

"It was really a couple of blows. He went unconscious and ultimately passed away days later," Campion said.

According to Backus' obituary, he died Aug. 26 with friends and family next to his bed at Alaska Regional Hospital. Campion said a medical examiner found the cause of Backus' death to be homicide and that the manner of his death was blunt force trauma.

Officers arrested Richardson-Henry the day after the assault, and court records show she remained jailed Thursday at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center.

As for John Doe, police are still looking.

"We think we know who he is. We're trying to confirm some things about it. We haven't actually talked to him yet," Campion said.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4343.