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Suspect in kidnapping, rape in Sleetmute eludes troopers

Casey Grove

An ax-wielding man chopped his way into a house early Wednesday in Sleetmute, dragged a woman outside and raped her near the Kuskokwim River, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The man, Colten Zaukar, remained on the loose Friday after attempts to apprehend him Wednesday, troopers said. Zaukar is wanted for kidnapping and multiple counts of assault and sexual assault.

Zaukar, a 22-year-old resident of the Southwest Alaska village, allegedly chopped through the woman's front door with a splitting maul sometime before 3 a.m. Wednesday, when troopers were notified of the attack. Zaukar allegedly beat the woman inside the home, then dragged her down a trail to the nearby Kuskokwim River, where he sexually assaulted her, troopers said.

The woman was flown out to a Bethel hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. Troopers and a deputy U.S. marshal flew to the village.

"They searched for about six hours in the woods," Peters said. "However, we believe the family of (the) suspect purposely told us the wrong location to find him."

Troopers think a family member drove Zaukar by four-wheeler to a wooded, hilly area four miles east of the village called Blueberry Hill. The troopers and deputy marshal apparently spotted Zaukar on Blueberry Hill and chased him, but Zaukar escaped and was still at large Friday, Peters said.

It was unclear if Zaukar was armed, but he should be considered dangerous, Peters said.

Troopers ask that anyone with information that might help capture Zaukar call them at 800-675-4398.

According to court records, Zaukar was arrested in 2010 for attempted murder after he allegedly attacked a family member with a hatchet or knife and kicked the person repeatedly, also during the early morning hours in Sleetmute. Prosecutors later dismissed the attempted-murder charge, and Zaukar pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a felony.

Zaukar was arrested again in 2011 and accused of burglary, court records show. He bailed out of jail Aug. 15 of this year, with a trial currently set for the end of October.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News