Body of missing Eagle River man found in his home; accident suspected

Benjamin S. Brasch

An Eagle River man who had been missing since mid-November was found dead in his home Thursday, according to the Anchorage Police Department.

The body of 58-year-old Stephen Gingrich was found by his brother buried under a heavy concrete slab in a crawl space beneath Gingrich's Hiland Road home around 1:55 p.m., said Dani Myren, an Anchorage police spokeswoman.

A concerned neighbor reported Gingrich missing on Nov. 16, after not hearing from him for 2 weeks, she said.

Gingrich's brother was checking up on the home Thursday when he smelled something coming from beneath the house, she said.

Gingrich appeared to be renovating his crawl space into a basement when he was pinned, Myren said.

Police estimate the concrete slab that killed Gingrich to be between 500 and 800 lbs.

Authorities believe he was underneath his home when they initially searched, but debris and clutter made locating him difficult, she said. Officers had to squeeze behind an air compressor to find Gingrich.

Police are working with the Anchorage Fire Department to carefully remove Gingrich's body without ruining the integrity of the house, she said.

Gingrich, known as "Stef" to his friends, was active in the Democratic political community and lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender circles in Anchorage.

Originally from Florida, Gingrich was an avid outdoorsman who didn't have any family in Alaska.

Jaime Rodriguez, a friend of Gingrich since the 1980s, said last month that Gingrich worked hard on his home.

A Facebook group, "Stephen Gingrich Missing," was created on Nov. 18 to help find the Eagle River resident by sharing information and organizing search parties. As of Thursday night, the group had 363 members.

"He was an important community figure for a lot of folks," Myren said.

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