Crime & Courts

Nikiski man faces murder charges in mother’s death at home they shared

A 20-year-old Nikiski man faces first-degree murder charges in the death of his mother in the home they shared.

A family member requested that Alaska State Troopers conduct a welfare check on 49-year-old Jeryl Bates on Tuesday morning, according to an affidavit written by Investigator Kevin Vik and filed with charging documents.

Bates had not shown up for work and was not reachable by phone, the affidavit said. The family member said Bates lived with her son, River Aspelund, who has schizophrenia.

When troopers arrived at the home, they found Bates dead near the entrance, Vik wrote. She had been shot and stabbed, the affidavit said.

Aspelund was visible through another entrance of the home but he did not respond to troopers and had barricaded himself in the room, the affidavit said.

He made nonsensical statements “unrelated to the incident at hand” when troopers detained him after he left the room, Vik wrote.

Troopers found a knife and gun inside a car that also contained mail, clothes and other items belonging to Aspelund, the affidavit said. There were empty bottles of bleach in the home.


According to a state database of court records, Bates was appointed as Aspelund’s temporary guardian about a year ago. The Alaska Court System says guardians are appointed in situations where a judge finds a person cannot take care of themselves or manage their daily responsibilities.

Aspelund was charged with first-degree murder and felony tampering with evidence. He is being held at the Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news and public safety. 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