Crime & Courts

Tanana man shot to death by relative in dispute over snow removal, troopers say

A 72-year-old Tanana man was shot to death Friday by his neighbor during a dispute over snow removal, charging documents say.

Francis James Roberts, 25, is facing a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his great-uncle Francis Edgar Roberts. They were also neighbors in the Yukon River village, according to a sworn affidavit written by Alaska State Troopers investigator Malik Jones.

The elder Roberts and his wife had hired someone to clear a large snowdrift from their driveway so they could leave for the airport, the affidavit said. When they returned home on Friday afternoon, the couple discovered their neighbor had pushed the snow back onto the driveway, the affidavit said.

When they confronted Francis James Roberts, he pushed the woman to the ground. She ran toward her home to call for help, the affidavit said.

Francis Edgar Roberts walked to their home shortly after with several gunshot wounds, the affidavit said. He was taken to the village clinic and flown to Fairbanks, the affidavit said. Just before he lost consciousness, the affidavit said, Francis Edgar Roberts told a trooper that Francis James Roberts had shot him. He died from the injuries.

A village public safety officer contacted Francis James Roberts about a quarter-mile from the residence and noted he was armed, according to the affidavit. Ammunition from the scene matched the handgun Francis James Roberts had with him, the affidavit said.

Francis James Roberts is in custody at the Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter 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. Contact her at