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Palmer teen charged with revenge murder of 45-year-old man

Jerzy Shedlock

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Allen Dvorak allegedly planned to “punk” an older man he suspected of sexually assaulting a female friend, but the revenge scheme morphed into a violent murder when 45-year-old Frank L. Pushruk was shot point-blank in the face.

Dvorak and his alleged victim are both from Palmer. Despite the age difference between the two, Pushruk partied with teens at his home days prior to the alleged murder. Dvorak, who won’t reach the age of 18 until November, is being charged with first-degree murder in Alaska Superior Court.

Palmer police identified the teen as a suspect shortly after the alleged shooting, according to the charging document. When officers responded to a scenic overlook near Mile 52 of the Glenn Highway around 1 a.m., they found three teens in a parked SUV in the parking lot. Two of the teenagers, identified by their initials, were “almost hysterical,” the charges say.

One of the teens who had allegedly been present at the time of the murder and planned to join Dvorak in beating up Pushruk told the Palmer officers “immediately” what had happened and again back the police station. Allegations against Dvorak appear to be based largely upon the teenage acquaintance’s account. The charges do not include an interview with Dvorak.

A female teen, one of the three sitting in the SUV at the crime scene, told police that three days prior to the alleged crime she woke up in a bed at Pushruk’s home, naked. She initially said the older man had raped her but later stated she wasn’t sure.

The alleged accomplice was at Pushruk’s the night the female teen may have been sexually assaulted. He confronted Pushruk and another man referred to in the charges as “Raymond” about what happened, and the men denied the accusations.

The day after the party, the girl told Dvorak what she’d thought happened, and he “made plans to ‘punk’ (beat up) Frank for sexually assaulting” her, the charges say. Dvorak and the accomplice drove around alone, discussing the plan, which according to the murder witness’s account would go like this: The two of them would tell Pushruk they were purchasing “shrooms,” hallucinogenic drugs, and he was invited to go along. But instead of consuming the drugs together they’d beat up the older man.

On Wednesday evening, after the teens left the Palmer Dairy Queen, where Dvorak worked, they jumped in the alleged murderer’s green Ford Mustang. They picked up the victim at his Palmer house and drove to the highway overlook.

Having walked up the path at the overlook, Dvorak confronted the 45-year-old about the sexual assault, then pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Pushruk’s face. That’s when things allegedly escalated.

“Frank told (Dvorak) to ‘just shoot me.’ JAD shot Frank in the face … Frank dropped to the ground and JAD shot him twice more,” the charges say.

The accomplice, who had gone along with the plan reportedly thinking the man would be beaten up, froze in place as Dvorak allegedly asked him to remove a prescription bottle of Valium out of the dead man’s pocket. Unable to move, the accomplice told police the alleged killer told him “Help me, help me. This could be YOU!” the charges say.

The two teens allegedly worked together to throw the victim over a fence separating the overlook from a cliff leading to the Matanuska River. The accomplice told police he thought he’d be killed if he didn’t help. After fleeing the scene, Dvorak cleaned the gun of his prints, drove to Scott Road and ran off into the woods, returning sometime later, according to the other teen’s version of events. Back at Dvorak’s house, Dvorak allegedly tried to clean blood from his jacket and shoestrings before trying to contact people, including the girl who said she’d been sexually assaulted.

Dvorak dropped his friend off at Fred Meyer in Palmer. He allegedly said that “if the cops came, to tell them ‘Riddles’ did it. Riddles is JAD’s nickname,” the charges say.

The dropped-off teen was eventually picked up by the two others in the SUV, one of whom reportedly called police as they made their way back to the lookout.

Police recovered Pushruk’s body around 1 p.m. Thursday. Two hours later, they received search warrants for the 17-year-old’s home. “Jacob admitted to shooting Frank Pushruk once in the face and twice in the back of the head,” as well as throwing him down the cliff with some help. He allegedly said he wanted justice for what happened to his female friend.

Dvorak was set to be arraigned Friday afternoon in Palmer.