Crime & Courts

Woman arrested on murder charges more than a year after man was killed at East Anchorage park

A 30-year-old woman was indicted recently on charges of first- and second-degree murder in the death of a man killed more than a year ago in a tent at an East Anchorage park.

Chantha Vannarath, 56, was found dead the morning of Sept. 25, 2020, in a wooded camp area of Russian Jack Springs Park northeast of the intersection of Pine Street and Reka Drive. His upper body showed signs of trauma and a medical examiner later declared he died from blunt- or sharp-force injuries, according to a sworn affidavit signed by Anchorage Police Detective Jeffrey Elbie.

People nearby described a woman named Stephanie who was last seen with Vannarath, and a caller told police a woman had gone to a nearby trailer park with bloody hands, the affidavit said. Police contacted Stephanie Moore, who matched the descriptions, several days after Vannarath was killed, according to the affidavit. She was not interviewed and was instead brought to a hospital because she showed signs of drug use, the affidavit said.

Police again located Moore on Oct. 6, 2020, and brought her to the department headquarters for an interview, the affidavit said.

Moore told police she had been drinking with Vannarath and another man at his tent the night before he was found dead, the affidavit said. Moore told the officers the men were smoking methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.

The other man left and Vannarath became agitated with Moore at some point and threatened to cut her arm, the affidavit said. She eventually walked away from the tent and met a friend to smoke meth, the affidavit said.

Moore later changed clothes at a storage unit that belonged to her father, the affidavit said. Detectives found clothing near the storage unit that matched the description of what she had worn on the night of Vannarath’s death, the affidavit said. Stains on the clothes were tested by the state crime lab and showed blood matching Vannarath’s, the affidavit said.

Charges were filed against Moore last month and she was indicted last week on one count of first-degree murder, two charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

“As is often the case with homicide investigations, it necessarily took some time after Mr. Vannarath’s death for the Anchorage Police Department to conduct necessary follow-up investigation to get the case to a point where it was ready to be charged by the District Attorney’s Office,” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for the state Department of Law.

Moore is being held at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center.