A man who had been missing for almost exactly one year was discovered dead Monday inside his Eagle River home, which had reportedly been occupied by renters in the year after he died there. According to Anchorage police, the body of 37-year-old Samuel Ephram McAlpine was discovered in an under-stair storage area inside the home when his ex-wife entered the residence to get it ready for new renters.
McAlpine was reported missing on March 29, 2013, and his body was discovered on March 31, 2014. According to a release that the Anchorage Police Department issued in August 2013 that initially reported McAlpine as missing, he "told his mother (in late March 2013) he was going on a date, but never returned. McAlpine frequently disappears for weeks at a time, but typically makes contact with family members within a month."
According to police spokesperson Anita Shell, McAlpine owned the home -- located on the 17000 block of Meadow Creek Drive in Eagle River -- with his ex-wife. The two were attempting to sell the home, but unable to find a buyer, they decided to rent it out instead. Shell said that "on or about" April 1 of 2013, a couple -- both of whom were members of the military -- was supposed to move into the house.
In the days prior to that move-in date, McAlpine reportedly re-entered the home and never left.
"What he had done was go back into the home, and he had crawled into the area under the stairwell, a little area under the stairs used for storage, and...that is where he died," Shell said.
The renters reportedly went ahead and moved in, unaware of the grim discovery that waited under the stairs. Shell said it wasn't clear if the renters spent much, if any, time in the home.
"I don’t know how often they were at the house," Shell said. "Obviously this would have started to smell relatively quickly. I don’t know if they were deployed; I don’t have those details."
A year after the renters moved in, McAlpine's ex-wife entered the home to prepare for potential new tenants and "noticed a foul odor" in the home, Shell said. She then discovered her ex-husband's body in his temporary resting place.
Shell said police do not suspect foul play in McAlpine's death, but drugs or alcohol may have been a factor. McAlpine's body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy in order to determine an official cause of death.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com.