Crime & Courts

Bail set at $15 million for former Anchorage correctional officer accused of killing wife and daughter

Raechyl Blackshear, Jayla Blackshear, domestic violence, memorial

A judge has set bail at $15 million for a former Anchorage correctional officer who is accused of sexually abusing his teenage daughter before fatally shooting her and her mother, then fleeing from the police for weeks.

New details have emerged in the deaths of Raechyl Blackshear and her 14-year-old daughter now that 39-year-old Jalonni Blackshear has arrived in Alaska after he was extradited from New York on numerous felony charges, including sexual abuse of a minor, murder, tampering with evidence and forgery. He is being held at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, according to court records.

The trouble began at the end of March when Jayla had an argument with her father about her sexuality, according to Jeri White, who is Raechyl Blackshear’s mother and Jayla’s grandmother.

“She was told that she could not be gay,” White told Superior Court Judge Kevin Saxby during an arraignment hearing Tuesday. “And then several hours later, he attempted to prove to her that she was not gay by doing these unmentionable, unspeakable things that good fathers would never do — that good fathers would actually lay down their lives to protect their children from.”

On March 30, the morning after the argument, Jayla told her mother she had been sexually abused in their home while Raechyl Blackshear was working an overnight shift as a nurse at a local hospital, according to a bail memorandum written by prosecutors last month and filed this week. The 34-year-old mother took her daughter to the hospital, and they were then directed to Alaska CARES, where a sexual abuse evidence kit was collected. Alaska CARES is a child advocacy center that focuses on helping children who have experienced trauma from abuse.

After the sexual assault allegations, Raechyl Blackshear and her children stopped staying at the home. She and Jayla were sleeping at a hotel, according to the bail memo. Jalonni Blackshear was at a hotel room with his brother and one of his children, the document said. Three of his sons were staying with a family friend.

At some point, Jalonni Blackshear sent his youngest daughter to California to stay with her grandparents, they said.

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Late on April 3, Raechyl Blackshear went to the police station with Jayla. At the station, prosecutors said, she told an officer the sexual abuse allegation was false. This is believed to be the last time she was ever seen alive. Her parents said they believe she was being coerced or threatened by her husband to recant the statement on her daughter’s behalf.

The mother and daughter went back to the family home after they visited the police department, prosecutors said.

Jalonni Blackshear reportedly left his hotel late on April 3 and arrived at the family home just before 1:20 a.m. April 4, as indicated by neighborhood camera footage, cellphone data and the motion detection system at the home, the bail memorandum said.

A shotgun was fired inside the home and security footage shows the slugs penetrating the home’s walls and landing in the yard and surrounding area of the neighborhood, the bail memorandum said.

After shooting his wife and daughter, Jalonni Blackshear lied to friends and family about their whereabouts and created an elaborate scheme intended to throw off law enforcement officers, officials said. He took his wife and daughter’s cellphones and texted family from their phones, pretending to be them, according to investigators.

Jalonni Blackshear reached out to a friend in New York on April 4 and asked to stay with her, the memorandum said. He boarded a flight the following day.

It took police 10 more days to discover Jayla and Raechyl Blackshear dead in their home. When they entered during a welfare check, police found the mother and daughter shot to death in a bedroom, authorities said.

A nationwide manhunt began for Jalonni Blackshear. Nearly a dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies searched for him and on April 20, Jalonni Blackshear was arrested in New York City by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Bravo said Tuesday that Jalonni Blackshear proved that he will go to great lengths to avoid prosecution and that he is a danger to everyone, including his own family.

Raechyl Blackshear’s parents said they believe she hid varying degrees of emotional and physical violence from her husband.

[Previous coverage: Raechyl Blackshear, a devoted mother, struggled in secret. Her family hopes the murders of her and her daughter focus attention on domestic and sexual abuse.]

In charging documents, Anchorage police Detective John Kleinsmith wrote that the family had an “extensive history of domestic violence.” In 2019, Jalonni Blackshear left his gun on the table after returning from a shift working at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. His 4-year-old daughter, who was visiting from the Lower 48, had grabbed the weapon and shot herself, according to charging documents. The child survived.

In that case, which is still open, Jalonni Blackshear was charged with four misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. The bail memorandum said he was ordered only to possess firearms while he was at work as a condition of his release in the case.

The state Department of Corrections was aware of the charges against Jalonni Blackshear, a spokeswoman for the department has said. Officials at the department, where he was employed as a correctional officer since 2018, were not aware of the ongoing investigation into the sexual abuse until after Blackshear separated from employment with the department on April 6, she said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Bravo read a statement from one of the Office of Children’s Services investigators assigned to the Blackshear family’s cases. She and other caseworkers fear for their safety if he were to be released from jail, the statement said.

“Mr. Blackshear is the most sophisticated, manipulative, controlling and dangerous parent I’ve ever dealt with in the past 14 years,” the investigator wrote.

Since the killings, White said, her grandchildren have nightmares and are afraid for their own safety. She and her husband, Raechyl Blackshear’s stepfather, are now raising their three grandchildren and recently returned to their home in California.

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Jalonni Blackshear has admitted to White that he killed her daughter and granddaughter, she said.

“The question of if he did that is not even at play anymore,” she said.

Saxby acknowledged the safety and flight risk Jalonni Blackshear posed when determining bail Tuesday.

“Considering those risks, the case, I think in 10 years on the bench I see the greatest risk here of any situation I’ve yet faced,” he said. “Risk of nonappearance is obvious — there’s already been a huge effort and a fairly complicated effort to avoid the court’s prosecution and alter evidence and evade detection.”

Saxby set bail at $15 million for Jalonni Blackshear and imposed conditions that must be followed if he is to be released.

Jalonni Blackshear was appointed a public defender on Tuesday and is scheduled to appear in court again on July 25.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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