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Crime & Courts

Anchorage police charge man with killing his caretaker at assisted living home

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: July 8, 2016
  • Published November 7, 2015

A 25-year-old man was arrested early Saturday after police said he admitted to killing his caregiver at an Anchorage assisted living facility.

Just after midnight Saturday, Gilbert Nashookpuk called 911 and told police that his 57-year-old caregiver, Glenna Wyllie, had "made him so angry he strangled, kicked and punched her to death," Anchorage police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said in a statement.

Nashookpuk told police he hid Wyllie's body behind a basement freezer in the assisted living home and then ran away. He said he had killed her about two hours earlier, Oistad said. About 15 minutes after Nashookpuk called 911, he was arrested at the corner of East 88th Avenue and Swiss Place, about 2 miles away from the assisted living home on Viburnum Avenue.

When officers went to the facility, identified in state records as Eye to Eye Assisted Living Home, they found Wyllie's body where Nashookpuk had said it would be, Oistad said.

During an interview with Anchorage police officers, Nashookpuk said he killed Wyllie "because she had been nagging him," Detective John Foraker reported in an affidavit. Nashookpuk then said he put Wyllie in a chokehold until she became unconscious, stomped on her neck and tried to strangle her. He then punched her several times in the head, intending to kill her, according to Foraker's affidavit.

By about 10 a.m. Saturday morning, outside the rust-colored house, police cars, the police department's white homicide investigation van and a state medical examiner car were parked closely together. There was a basketball hoop in the driveway and a pink sign that read "Princess Parking Only" next to a pair of garage doors.

Neighbors said they didn't know much about the facility or who ran it, apart from seeing people going in and out of the home accompanied by nurses.

Oistad said other people were living in the home, but none of them were taken in for questioning. She said those residents have been temporarily moved elsewhere. State records show the facility housed five residents who were older than 18 and had developmental or mental disabilities.

The person listed as holding the license to the facility, Margaret Williams, did not return a call seeking comment Saturday morning.

First court appearance

In his first court appearance Saturday afternoon, Nashookpuk wore orange Goose Creek Correctional Center scrubs that hung low enough to show tattoos festooned across his neck and chest. He was handcuffed and appeared stiff and emotionless, and spoke in a deep mumble.

He told Magistrate Kathleen Doherty he couldn't afford a lawyer, but he had savings of between $30,000 and $50,000. He also said someone else managed the funds for him.

Doherty said she would provisionally appoint a public defender who would determine whether any of the money could be used for his defense.

"That's a pretty good amount of money you have saved, but I suspect a lot of it is for your long-term care," Doherty told Nashookpuk.

Before setting bail, Doherty said she found Nashookpuk to be a flight risk and a danger to the community, based on the allegations in the criminal complaint and on his prior criminal history. The history paints a dark portrait: Between 2007 and 2010, Nashookpuk was convicted of underage drinking in Kotzebue and harassment and trespassing in Fairbanks.

In 2010, Nashookpuk pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault and burglary charges in Fairbanks. At the time, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Nashookpuk, originally from Nome, would be sent to an Idaho facility that specializes in treating sex offenders with developmental disabilities for five years.

Nashookpuk was arrested in 2009 for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman who was letting him sleep on her couch, the News-Miner reported. He is listed as a sex offender in the Alaska Department of Public Safety's database.

In 2014, Nashookpuk pleaded guilty to separate misdemeanor criminal mischief charges in Seward and in Anchorage. In February, Nashookpuk pleaded guilty to an assault charge from last fall.

No family members or acquaintances were present at the arraignment.

Nashookpuk is next scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a pre-indictment hearing. He was being held in Anchorage jail on charges of first- and second-degree murder.

‘Just a gem’

Over the past three years, Wyllie had worked on and off as a caregiver for Preferred Care at Home, an Anchorage senior home care service. In a phone interview Saturday, Suzanne Hickel, the owner of Preferred Care, said employees at the company were shocked by news of Wyllie's death.

"She was the sweetest, kindest person," Hickel said. "Just that ideal caregiver."

Hickel said Wyllie mostly recently worked for Preferred Care in the spring. She said the last time she talked to Wyllie was about six weeks ago. Wyllie told Hickel she was working full-time at an assisted living home and wasn't available to pick up shifts, Hickel said.

Hickel said she spoke to families Saturday who had known Wyllie as a caregiver and were "absolutely devastated."

"They asked, 'Is this Glenna that cared for my sister-in-law or my mom?'" Hickel said.

Hickel said Wyllie had children, most of them older. But she said there was one younger child still at home, and Wyllie was also caring for a granddaughter.

Wyllie did not have a driver's license -- she never had wanted to drive, Hickel said -- and took the bus or a taxi to get around. Even without access to a car, she was unfailingly reliable, Hickel said.

"She didn't drive...she cared for her girls...she worked her heart out," Hickel said. "She was just a gem."

On Monday, the company is planning to set up an account at First National Bank Alaska to raise funds for Wyllie's family, Hickel said.

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