Crime & Courts

Alaska again has the nation’s highest rate of women killed by men

Alaska — again — has the highest rate of women killed by men in the nation.

It’s not the state’s first appearance at the top of a grim list. Every year for the last decade, Alaska has been either the state with the highest or the second highest rate of women killed by men in the United States, according to a report released Tuesday by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for gun reform.

“Alaska,” the report concludes, “is experiencing a prolonged epidemic of deadly violence against women.”

“I think the most troubling thing to us is just the persistence,” said Kristen Rand, the government affairs director of the Violence Policy Center. Since 2011, Alaska has consistently recorded a rate far above the national average.

“When you see that you’re just consistently No. 1, obviously, the problem is real,” Rand said.

The “When Men Murder Women” analysis uses 2020 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting database.

The data shows stark racial disparities: The rate of Alaska Native women killed by men in Alaska is 12.63 per 100,000 women. That’s more than 3.5 times the rate for all women in Alaska. It’s 10 times the rate for white women in Alaska, the report shows.


The data included in the report released Tuesday is from 2020. In July of that year, Western Alaska saw a blight of domestic violence killings, during a time when the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted travel and shelter operations. One of the victims was Carol Abraham, a McGrath woman whose boyfriend was accused of beating her to death. Abraham, the Daily News reported at the time, told people she worried the man would eventually kill her.

Nationally, guns are the most common weapon in such killings. Despite Alaska’s high rate of gun ownership, only a quarter of the deaths of women killed by men analyzed in the report involved a gun. Women were killed with knives, blunt force or objects. Almost all — 92% — knew the person who killed them. Just over half were or had been in some kind of domestic relationship with the killer, the report shows.

In April, the Alaska State Troopers hired Anne Sears as a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons investigator, a first-of-its-kind job in the state intended to focus investigative resources on unsolved cases involving Alaska Native women and men. Sears resigned in August, the Alaska Beacon reported. The job remains unfilled. Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesman Austin McDaniel said the department would “have more information to release” next week about the position.

The report comes on the eve of an important government-to-government consultation intended to address violence against women. The 17th annual Government-to-Government Violence Against Women Tribal Consultation is being held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage starting Wednesday.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Justice said it planned to host 600 participants, including 55 tribal leaders, to work on issues “enhancing the safety of Alaska Native and American Indian women from domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, homicide, stalking and sex trafficking.”

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Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.