Morning of violent, random crime leads to arrest in Anchorage

Jerzy Shedlock
Travis Felder is arraigned at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on multiple counts of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, evidence tampering an other charges on Thursday, June 17, 2014. Bob Hallinen photo

Travis Felder, 40, a man with a hefty rap sheet including a 1993 manslaughter conviction, made an initial court appearance at the Anchorage Correctional Complex courtroom Thursday following a violent crime spree Wednesday. Police say he sexually assaulted a female acquaintance, then forced his way into two homes and physically assaulted two residents.

Felder was arrested and charged with sex assault, attempted sex assault, evidence tampering, burglary, assault, and criminal trespass. Assistant district attorney Larry Monsma requested $1 million bail. The request was granted.

Monsma noted Felder’s extensive criminal history, including five felony convictions, four of which were assaults. He argued Felder was a danger to the community and the defendant’s latest crimes “terrorized” Anchorage residents.

Felder responded to Anchorage District Court Judge Leslie Dickson’s questions with “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” He shook his head no when Dickson asked him if he had any questions about the sizeable bail. And he glanced at family members, who declined to comment after the hearing.

Felder was most recently released from jail on Nov. 5, 2013, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections. He was serving time for numerous convictions.

Anchorage police got a call around 9:40 a.m. from a woman reporting she’d been beaten and raped in a storage unit off the 2200 block of Gambell Street by Felder. She said she knew him. The victim had slept in the storage unit with her “toddler child” the previous night, according to the charges.

Prior to the assault and rape, the storage business’ owners told the victim she couldn’t sleep in the unit. At that time they witnessed Felder sunbathing outside the unit on the hood of a car, wearing Capri pants and a bra, according to the charges.

During the assault, Felder allegedly beat up the victim, raped her, then urinated on the woman, according to the charges.

The victim told police she fled to the manager’s office of the storage business following the assault to call for help.

“Meanwhile, Felder turned off the electricity to the storage complex, disabling the surveillance cameras,” police reported. Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Anita Shell said he did so by finding and switching off an electrical box.

Felder fled the area still wearing women’s clothing, police reported.

Shortly thereafter, police got another emergency call from a man saying “a black male, dressed as a woman and acting strangely, entered his residence without permission, went upstairs and laid down on his bed,” police reported. The caller offered Felder a ride to Northern Lights and Maplewood Street in an effort to get him to leave.

Shell said the man gave Felder a ride, and there is nothing to indicate he was erratic or threatening during the drive.

Less than an hour after the sexual assault report, police received a third call from a homeowner in the Eastridge subdivision off East 20th Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway. The man and his wife, both in their mid-60s, were watching their 7-year-old grandchild when a man, who police say was Felder, entered the home wearing only a bra and began masturbating. He had tossed the capri pants into a tree near his third victims’ home.

The couple asked Felder to leave, and he responded by striking the wife in the jaw, causing her to fall and severely injure her back. He also “karate kicked” the man in the chest before the couple and their grandchild escaped and called 911. Felder took a shower in their home, according to the charges.

“Police arrived to find Felder dressed in a pair of the homeowner’s pajamas,” police reported. Shell said he was arrested without incident.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, investigators were unable to speak with the injured woman, as she’d received morphine for her back and wasn’t fully alert, according to the charges.

The charges say Felder appeared to be coming down from “his ‘high’” once in police custody. 

Felder later told investigators he had used marijuana and methamphetamine and “was very high during this event,” according to the charges. He denied the sexual assault.

Several officers and detectives worked late into the evening processing the three separate crime scenes and gathering evidence. Phone calls received from several people proved instrumental in Felder’s arrest, they said.

Felder was sentenced to 17 years in prison in September 1992 when the gun he was using to pistol whip a victim discharged and accidently killed his accomplice, according to an Anchorage Daily News report at that time.

He is still on probation for the crimes, according to his most recent charges. 

Felder was released on Feb. 27, 2002, according to DOC.  Less than a year later, he was arrested for misdemeanor assault and providing false information to police. He was convicted for the assault charge about a month later, according to online court records.

His troubles persisted with three additional assaults, two in 2004 and the third just earlier this year in January. 

The Anchorage Press published an article in February 2013 examining the revolving door of the DOC many Alaska convicts face. Felder was the centerpiece of the story. Two months earlier, according to the article, he reportedly showed up at the Press office “and presented himself as a man on the path to reform.”

He discussed the hurdles related to jobs and housing he and others face as convicts, as well as his personal mental health issues, according to the article. Felder told the Press he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he’d discussed a potential list of other mental health problems with counselors, which included post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.

“I think I really run the gamut. Some of it is situational. When I start to do deep thinking, I have to be in a safe environment," Felder told the Press.