Crime & Courts

Anchorage woman whose remains were found earlier this year was slain, troopers say

An Anchorage woman whose remains were found off the Seward Highway in May, months after she was reported missing, was killed, troopers said Monday.

In a statement Monday, troopers said the remains were identified earlier this month through dental records as belonging to Shirley Skeek, 27. Her remains were found the evening of May 27 off the Seward Highway near the Hope cutoff, and were sent to the State Medical Examiner Office for autopsy and identification.

Amy Skeek, Shirley’s older sister, said Shirley was last seen getting into a black truck outside Bean’s Cafe in December 2018. Shirley had been in Anchorage for about three years, after growing up in Kake. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was off her medication at the time of her disappearance, Amy said.

Family members filed a missing persons report Jan. 2 after not hearing from Shirley for two weeks.

An autopsy report from the state medical examiner that was recently received by troopers indicated that her death was a homicide. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is investigating her death.

Amy said she was notified on Dec. 4 that Shirley’s remains had been found. A family member supplied police with dental records.

“They said that it was just body parts that they had found. It wasn’t all of her,” Amy said, adding that the remains are now in Texas undergoing forensic testing. Soon, Amy hopes, the remains will be returned to the family so they can be cremated. The family has been waiting to hold a ceremony.


Shirley was Alaska Native and was born in Kake the youngest of six siblings. She was outgoing and smart, Amy said. She was kind and a dedicated aunt who regularly made the honor roll and started working at a youth program at 14.

In her late teens, Shirley started exhibiting signs of a mental disorder. By 20, the symptoms worsened. In her mid-20s, Shirley moved to Juneau so Amy could look after her. Amy took Shirley for a psychological evaluation, and she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“Without her medication, she just couldn’t function," Amy said. "She could hardly talk. Just laughing to herself, pacing, rocking back and forth.”

Amy said with no available treatment options in Juneau, Shirley moved to Anchorage. She stayed in close contact with Amy and her family, often calling four times a day. Sometimes Amy would just leave Shirley on speakerphone so she could hear as Amy’s family bustled about the house.

“She just wanted to hear our family,” Amy said.

Shirley had suffered from drug and alcohol addiction throughout her life, and in Anchorage got tangled up with the homeless community, Amy said. Amy found out that Shirley had missed medical appointments leading up to her disappearance. She would have been in an obvious state of mental instability at the time of her disappearance, Amy said.

"For someone to have preyed on her this way just makes us furious,” Amy said.

Amy said police haven’t informed the family of any suspects or other information explaining how Shirley was killed, but she plans to stay in touch with law enforcement regarding the case. Anchorage police are assisting in the case, and spokesman MJ Thim said the department will provide as many resources as the troopers need.

Amy said it’s the latest in a series of tragedies in the family. Their brother, Thomas, was charged with murder in his wife’s 2016 disappearance and was found not guilty of all charges by an Anchorage jury. Months after Thomas was charged, their mother died of a heart attack under a bridge in Juneau, Amy said. Then their brother Arnold drowned in Auke Bay, and their father died.

"We all just want closure from all of this,” Amy said.

Troopers urged anyone with information about Shirley Skeek, her death or her disappearance to contact them at 907-269-5611. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 907-561-7867 or

The bodies of two other Alaska Native women living in Anchorage were found earlier this year along Southcentral Alaska highways. Brian Steven Smith, 48, is charged with murder in the deaths of Kathleen Jo Henry, 30, whose body was found along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage in early October, and Veronica Abouchuk, 52, whose remains were found along the Old Glenn Highway in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in April.

Troopers have not named any suspects in Skeek’s death. Troopers spokesman Ken Marsh said Monday afternoon that the agency would not be releasing any further information about the investigation for now.

Aubrey Wieber

Aubrey Wieber covers Anchorage city government, politics and general assignments for the Daily News. He previously covered the Oregon Legislature for the Salem Reporter, was a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and Bend Bulletin, and was a reporter and editor at the Post Register in Idaho Falls. Contact him at