Remains of Eagle River man missing for a year found in closet

Tegan Hanlon

A man was found dead inside of his Eagle River home Monday, a place where tenants had been living since he disappeared one year ago, said Anchorage police.

Samuel Ephram McAlpine, 37, was reported missing by his sister on March 29, 2013. In August, police asked the public for help finding the man. His mother said he had gone on a date in March and never returned. His family said it was typical for him to go missing for weeks at a time, according to last year's statement by police.

Around the time of his disappearance, McAlpine and his wife were going through a divorce, according to Dani Myren, police spokeswoman. They tried to sell their home on Meadow Creek Drive, but had no buyers. McAlpine moved to a house nearby and the two, as co-owners, decided to rent their property, she said.

In early April, McAlpine's ex-wife rented out the home, Myren said. But before the tenants moved in, police said McAlpine returned to the house, crawling into a small space underneath a stairwell.

Myren said the renters never suspected anything. "For whatever reason, they didn't detect an odor," she said. It wasn't until they moved out and McAlpine's ex-wife was preparing the home for new renters that she smelled "a foul odor." She looked underneath the stairs in a storage space blocked by a 3-foot-tall door and found McAlpine's body, Myren said.

Attempts by the Daily News to contact McAlpine's ex-wife Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Myren said police do not suspect foul play in the case of McAlpine's death, but drugs or alcohol may be involved. The Alaska State Medical Examiner's Office is conducting an autopsy.

In December, the body of Stephen Gingrich, 58, was found buried under a heavy concrete slab in a crawl space underneath his Eagle River home. He had been missing about a month, police said.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at or 257-4589.