Crime & Courts

Murder charges: Selawik man stabbed his uncle 20 times with butcher knife

A Selawik man is accused of stabbing his uncle more than 20 times during a homebrew-fueled fight in the Northwest Alaska village, according to charging documents in the case.

The slaying is the second in just over a year in Selawik, a community of about 900 people roughly 80 miles east of Kotzebue.

All four of the men involved in the two cases — both the victims and the accused killers — share the same last name.

The most recent incident happened early on Friday, according to charging documents. A village police officer called Alaska State Troopers at 1:31 a.m. to report a man, identified as Roscoe Cleveland, was dead "from approximately 20 stab wounds."

Troopers Timothy Tilley and Ron Monigold arrived in the village at 3:33 a.m. Friday, according to an affidavit written by Tilley. There, inside a house, Tilley said they found Roscoe Cleveland, 38, "lying motionless on the floor in a pool of blood" with "numerous stab and slash wounds covering (his) forearms, chest, face and neck." 

Later, the troopers talked to Clive Cleveland, 24, who was handcuffed on a bench at the Selawik Police Department and clad in a "blood soaked sweatshirt," according to the affidavit.

Clive Cleveland told the troopers that the night began with a party of people drinking homebrew at the house, Tilley wrote; after everyone but Roscoe and Clive Cleveland left, the two got into a fight.

Clive Cleveland later told troopers that his uncle, also his roommate, had strangled him with a rope to the point where he began to black out and threatened him with a pocket knife.

According to the affidavit, Clive Cleveland said he "grabbed a steak knife and butcher knife" and began to stab his uncle as the two grappled.

"Clive stated 'I snapped,' and 'I kept stabbing,' " according to the affidavit.

Troopers found a bucket used to manufacture homebrew in the house. About six hours after the incident, Cleveland's blood alcohol content was .116, according to the affidavit.

The incident echoes a killing that happened in Selawik in July 2015.

In that case, then-39-year-old Christopher Cleveland shot and killed 23-year-old Wade Cleveland and then fired at officers during a 10-hour standoff. He later said he'd been drinking homebrew and whiskey when a fight started and he "snapped." Police said the two men were not closely related despite the shared last name. Christopher Cleveland was convicted of murder Sept. 26 after a jury trial in Kotzebue.

Clive Cleveland was being held at the Kotzebue jail. He is charged with one count each of first- and second-degree murder and third-degree assault.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at