3 men found dead outside in Anchorage in 12 hours

Three men were found dead in separate outdoor locations around Anchorage within 12 hours on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, police said.

In at least two of the cases, police said, there were no signs of foul play. In the third case, foul play hasn't yet been ruled out.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell said it did not appear the deaths were connected.

The remains of all three men will be sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for determination of the causes of death.

On Thursday afternoon, the camp was vacant, but the remnants of recent campers were scattered about. A red and gray tent stood intact, the bedding inside coated in baby powder. Jeans and socks were strung out over tree branches along the creek. An empty, bright yellow bag of rolling tobacco stood out against a backdrop of leaves, empty beer cans and clear Monarch vodka bottles. Other debris sat atop tree stumps, summer foliage and used toilet paper.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier in Indiana reported on July 21, 2010, that Murphy -- who also went by Destry Patterson -- had been reported missing in the spring of that year. He and his father had moved to Indiana from Alaska in 2009.

The report said he was discovered in July 2010 by Anchorage police, who stopped him while he was walking down a road in the middle of the night. He'd turned 18 while he was missing, so at that point he was no longer considered a runaway.


The report also noted that Murphy was a Type 1 diabetic. When authorities notified Murphy's family in Indiana of his death, they told police Murphy suffered from medical issues.

Investigators did not find evidence of foul play at the scene.

Attempts to contact Murphy's family were not immediately successful Thursday.

At 11:47 p.m Wednesday, several hours after Murphy's body was discovered, police were notified of another body inside a tent in Valley of the Moon Park on Arctic Boulevard. Renee Oistad, police spokeswoman, said the body was found about 50 yards into the woods behind a dog park near where E Street becomes West 17th Avenue.

Police have not released the 54-year-old man's identity, as his next-of-kin had not been reached as of Thursday morning.

The woman who found the man told police they were friends and had been camping next to each other in separate tents. She told police that when she left in the morning, he appeared to be asleep, but when she returned he hadn't moved and wasn't breathing.

Police did not immediately say if there was evidence of foul play at the scene.

"On this person, they're not releasing the nature of injuries," Shell said. "There was some trauma, but basically they're waiting for an autopsy to determine if the trauma found was a factor in his death."

A third body was discovered around 6:30 a.m. Thursday at Third Avenue and Karluk Street, next to a chain-link fence near the Brother Francis Shelter, police said. The man was identified as Harry Oxereok Jr., 34, of Anchorage.

Early Thursday afternoon, his sister Beverly Oxereok sat on the sidewalk on Karluk Street, across from the shelter and Bean's Cafe, dressed in a pink jacket and pink sweatpants. Friends and her boyfriend, Dwight Foster, smoked cigarettes as they comforted her.

Beverly Oxereok laughed as she shared stories of her little brother, whom she described as a "funny guy," who "cherished his mother" and was "protective" of his older sister.

But in the next moment, Beverly's mood would change; she'd yell, sob and hide her face in her hands.

"You were supposed to wake up and have breakfast with me!" she yelled, as she grasped a chain-link fence. "But we didn't. We didn't have breakfast together."

Foster, who said he'd known Harry Oxereok for about a decade, said they'd been drinking and celebrating a birthday Wednesday night outside the shelter. Foster said he went to sleep around 2 a.m. and Harry Oxereok was still awake. When he woke up Thursday morning, police were at the shelter.

"We were sharing drinks and laughs and jokes just last night. Just last night," Foster said.

Foster said Harry Oxereok, like his sister Beverly, had been living on the streets of Anchorage, but had grown up in the Northwest Alaska villages of Wales and Ambler.

"This was her last brother left," Foster said, as he described other Oxereok men who had died under similar circumstances in recent years. In 2012, 39-year-old Carl Oxereok was found dead in the road near Valley of the Moon Park.


It is unclear how long Harry Oxereok had been living on Anchorage's streets, but he appeared to be well known among regulars of the shelter.

"He was just one of those people," Beverly Oxereok said. "He'd see someone crying, and go, 'Are you OK?', then ask to see their smile. When they did, he'd laugh and go, 'Yeah!' "

Alaska Office of Vital Statistics research analyst Andrew Jessen said 25 people have died outside in Anchorage since Jan. 1, although he was not able to say exactly how many of those people were homeless. Shell said Anchorage police don't track homeless deaths, even though several occur every year.

Reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed to this story.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.