Alaska State Troopers Press Release of Thursday, March 8, 2018

Any charges reported in these press releases are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A Detachment

  • AK18015499

    Location: Mendenhall Ice Field
    Type: Search and Rescue

    Dispatch Text:

    UPDATE: On 3/13/2018, weather cleared and search assets were able to be deployed. The chartered Coastal helicopter, with Juneau Mountain Rescue members on board, was able to reach the north face of the Mendenhall Towers. An intact anchor rope was seen at the top of an ice shoot on the 4th Tower. Two climbing ropes were also seen in a crevasse midway down the 4th Tower. The ropes match the description of the gear carried by Johnson and Leclerc. Due to the circumstances, Johnson and Leclerc are presumed deceased. Due to continuing significant avalanche danger and safety hazards, recovery efforts are not feasible at this time. Next of kin for Johnson and Leclerc have been notified. Missing person files have been entered into the missing persons clearing house for both Johnson and Leclerc.

    The Alaska State Troopers would like to thank our search and rescue partners along with businesses and member of the community that donated food and supplies to support the volunteer search personnel.

    UPDATE: On 03/09/2018, a brief weather window allowed the launch of a USCG helicopter with Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel on board. However, they were forced to turn back a short time later due to deteriorating conditions and were not able to reach the search area. On 03/10/2018 the Army National Guard Helicopter was not able to launch from Juneau due to poor weather conditions.  On 03/11/2018 the National Guard Helicopter was able to launch from Juneau during a weather window and was able to do an aerial search of the South face of the Mendenhall Towers with Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel on board before having to return due to weather conditions.  No additional clues were located. 

    On 3/12/2018, if a weather window presents itself, the Army National Guard helicopter will attempt to reach the North Side of the Mendenhall Towers. 

    Original Release:

    On 3/7/18, at about 1006 hours, Juneau based Alaska State Troopers were notified that 34 year old George "Ryan" Johnson of Juneau and Marc-Andre Leclerc, 25 of British Columbia, had not returned from climbing the Mendenhall Towers, which are located in the Mendenhall Ice Field in Juneau.  Both are reported to be experienced climbers and were dropped off near the towers on 3/4/18.  The pair were last in communication with family/friends on 3/5/18 after climbing to the top of the Towers. They climbers were supposed to hike/ski back to Juneau via the West Mendenhall Glacier Trail with a return time of no later than Wednesday evening (3/7/18).  There was a significant snow storm in the Juneau area on 3/7/18 and neither individual is reportedly equipped with an SAT phone or emergency beacon. A chartered Coastal Helicopter with Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel and the U.S. Coast Guard are assisting with the search. Some of the men's gear has been located. Search efforts are ongoing.  The next of kin for both men have been appraised of the situation.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 2:26:42 PM by DPS\mapeters

  • AK18015644

    Location: Saxman
    Type: Assault 4 (DV)

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3/7/2018, at approximately 1738 hours, the Saxman VPSO responded to the 2500 block of Eagle Avenue for a report of a domestic disturbance.  Investigation revealed that Richard Shields Jr., age 35 of Saxman, had committed the crime of Assault in the 4th degree, domestic violence, when he recklessly caused physical injury to a family member by closing their hand in a car door and causing injury.  Shields Jr. was arrested for Assault in the 4th degree-DV and was transported to the Ketchikan Correctional Center where he was remanded into custody and held without bail to await arraignment.


    Posted on 3/8/2018 12:05:01 PM by DPS\grmiller

B Detachment

  • AK18015618

    Location: Willow
    Type: Burglary II, Criminal Trespass I x 2, and Violating Conditions of Release

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/2018 at approximately 1614 hours, Alaska State Troopers responded to a reported disturbance on E. Secluded Lake Loop in Willow. A subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of Todd George Heidemann, age 53 of Willow, for the original charges of Burglary II, Criminal Trespass I x 2, and Violating Conditions of his Release from a previous incident. Heidemann was transported and remanded to the Mat-Su Pretrial in Palmer where he was held without bail.    


    Posted on 3/8/2018 12:59:16 AM by DPS\wskirksey

  • AK18015663

    Location: Willow
    Type: Felony DUI

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/18 at 1851 hours, AST and EMS responded to the intersection of Willow-Fishhook Road and Four Mile Road in Willow for the report of a snow machine accident on the roadway. Investigation revealed Charles Vanornum, age 56 of Willow, was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Further investigation revealed Vanornum had been previously convicted of Felony DUI in 2014 resulting in the new offense being classified as a Felony DUI also. Vanornum was transported to the MSPT facility in Palmer where he was remanded into custody and held without bail.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 1:21:33 AM by DPS\lephillips

  • AK18015622

    Location: Copper Center
    Type: DUI

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/2018 at approximately 1502 hours, Glennallen AST received a REDDI/VID report near 102 Old Richardson Hwy.  AST investigation revealed the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle identified as 32 year old, Tazlina resident John Geffe.  Geffe was arrested for Driving under the influence. He transported to Glennallen AST Post where he is being held pending an arraignment.  


    Posted on 3/8/2018 9:19:13 AM by DPS\pvmeyer

C Detachment

  • AK18015624

    Location: Pilot Station
    Type: Assault/Trooper involved shooting

    Dispatch Text:


    The Troopers involved that fired their service weapons during the incident on 3/8/2018 have been identified as:

    -Trooper Daron Cooper, a 10 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers currently assigned to B Detachment Palmer Patrol

    -Trooper Charles Withers, a 5 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers currently assigned to B Detachment Palmer Patrol

    -Investigator Shayne Calt, a 14 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers currently assigned to the Alaska Bureau of Investigation

    -Investigator Curtis Vik, a 16 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers currently assigned to the Alaska Bureau of Investigation

    ABI investigators were able to respond to Pilot Station to conduct the on scene investigation on 3/9/2018. On 3/10/2018, Heckman’s remains were transported to the SME’s office in Anchorage for autopsy. Investigation is ongoing.

    Correction: On 3/8/18 at approximately 1230 hours, a Trooper attempted to contact Heckman at his residence. Heckman was not located at his residence and was later seen on a ATV in the community. When the Trooper attempted to stop Heckman, Heckman got off his ATV, produced a handgun, put the gun against his own head and ran toward the woods. The Trooper drew his sidearm and took cover behind the ATV as the suspect fled into the woods. At approximately 1430 hours Heckman was again spotted by the Trooper. Heckman fired multiple rounds and then ran further into the woods.

    Update: The name(s) of the trooper(s) involved in the officer involved shooting will be released at the completion of a 72-hour administrative leave. Under most circumstances involving an Officer Involved Shooting, the Trooper(s) involved are almost immediately able go on the required administrative leave, however this incident occurred in a rural Alaska community in which troopers from outside of their patrol area had to be deployed. The Trooper(s) have not been able to return from the incident and administrative leave has not yet commenced. Once the Trooper(s) is able to return to their regularly assigned areas, the mandatory leave will begin which is expected to occur shortly.

    UPDATE: On 3/8/2018 at approximately 1700 hours, additional Troopers were able to reach Pilot Station and assisted the one Trooper and the local VPOs with holding the perimeter around the suspect who was still in the woods. Troopers with Southcentral SERT began arriving in Pilot Station at approximately 1840 hours. At approximately 1930 hours, SERT attempted to contact the suspect and there was an exchange of gunfire. The suspect was found deceased by SERT personnel at approximately 2020 Hours. No other injuries have been reported. ABI will respond on 3/9/2018, weather permitting, to investigate the totality of the incident. The deceased has been identified as Dwight Heckman, 27 of Pilot Station. His next of kin have been notified. Per department policy, the Trooper(s) involved will be placed on a standard 72-hour administrative leave. At the completion of ABI's investigation, the case will be turned over to Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals for review. 

    Original Release: On 3/7/18, at about 1631 hours, St. Mary’s Troopers were notified of multiple shots being fired in the community of Pilot Station.  Information received indicated that a man had assaulted an adult female by striking her and strangling her at a local residence.  Following the initial assault on the female, the suspect dragged the victim out into the street where he fired multiple rounds from a handgun in close proximity to her before fleeing the area on a snowmachine.  It was further reported that the female was safe with family. AST was not able to immediately respond to the community due to weather. On 3/8/18 at approximately 1230 hours, a Trooper attempted to contact the suspect at his residence.  The suspect pulled out a handgun and pointed it in the direction of the Trooper as the Trooper took cover.  The suspect then fled in to the woods behind his residence.  At about 1430 hours the suspect was again spotted in Pilot Station by the Trooper. The suspect fired multiple rounds and then fled back into the woods. The Trooper has secured the area and additional resources, to include Southcentral SERT, are now in the process of responding to Pilot Station. This incident is ongoing and updates will be provided when more information is available.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 3:59:17 PM by DPS\mapeters

  • AK18015430

    Location: Stebbins
    Type: Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/2018 Alaska State Troopers in Unalakleet were notified of a disturbance involving John Cheemuk, age 29 of Stebbins. Investigation revealed John was creating an unreasonably loud noise and disturbing others. John was placed under arrest for disorderly conduct and additionally resisting arrest. John was remanded to the Stebbins Jail where he was later released on this own recognizance after arraignment.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 11:35:04 AM by DPS\btbranch

  • AK18015727

    Location: Stebbins
    Type: Assault 4th Manufacturing Alcohol

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/2018 Alaska State Troopers in Unalakleet were notified of an Assault in Stebbins. Investigation revealed George Otten, age 26 of Stebbins, assaulted a family member. Additionally George was charged with Manufacturing Alcohol in a Dry Village. George was remanded to the Stebbins Jail for Assault in the Fourth Degree and Manufacturing Alcohol in a Dry Village. George was released on his own recognizance after arraignment.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 11:41:57 AM by DPS\btbranch

  • AK18015977

    Location: Emmonak
    Type: Assault 3rd, DV (x2)

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3/8/18 at about 2037 hours, Emmonak AST responded to a report of an assault in Emmonak on Yukon Way. An investigation revealed that Charlie Hootch (age 32) of Emmonak had assaulted a household member by hitting their head against the floor and kicking them in the back. Hootch was arrested for 2 counts of Assault in the 3rd Degree, DV and lodged at the Emmonak Police Department pending arraignment. Alcohol was a factor.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 11:52:09 PM by DPS\magranda

D Detachment

  • AK18015974

    Location: Tok, Alaska
    Type: DUI, Refusal, DC

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3/08/18 at approximately 2007 hours Tok AST received a REDDI report of a drunk driver at the Three Bears Grocery Store. AST was able to locate the vehicle 10 minutes later and contacted a sober driver and the passenger Michael Easter (33YOA). Subsequent investigation revealed Easter drove to the Three Bears Grocery store highly intoxicated. While at the store a friend observed Easter in his drunken state and offered him a ride home. Through witness statements and AST's observations Easter was placed under arrest for DUI. Easter later refused to provide a sample of his breath as required by law. Easter also challenged AST to fight with him. Easter was held at Tok AST jail until sober and was released on conditions of release the next day.  

    Posted on 3/8/2018 10:49:59 PM by DPS\ajwill

  • AK18015858

    Location: Tanacross, Alaska
    Type: Warrant

    Dispatch Text:

    03/08/18 at approximately 1330 hours, Tok AST arrested 24 year old Tanacross resident, Lakota Northway. Northway had a $500 warrant for failure to appear for calendar on an original felony DV case. Northway was later released after a court appearance.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 3:55:45 PM by DPS\ajwill

E Detachment

  • AK18014871

    Location: Seward
    Type: Assault 4

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3-4-18 at 2028 hours, Soldotna dispatch received a report of a disturbance near 6 mile Seward Highway.  Alaska State Troopers responded and contacted a 25 year old female who reported her sister and mother assaulted her earlier in the night.  AST contacted and interviewed all parties involved.  The Kenai District Attorney was contacted and advised to forward the case to their office for review for possible assault charges.   

    Posted on 3/8/2018 4:10:56 PM by DPS\mazweifel

  • AK18015568

    Location: Seward
    Type: Assault 4

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3-7-18 at 1545 hours, Alaska State Troopers responded to Spring Creek Correctional Center (SCCC) for a report of an assault.  SCCC reported that an inmate assaulted a correctional officer.  AST responded and conducted an investigation and gathered evidence.  The officer did not require medical attention.  The inmate did not want to speak with AST.  One charge of assault in the 4th degree will be sent to the Kenia District Attorney for review.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 4:12:56 PM by DPS\mazweifel

  • AK18014652

    Location: Seward
    Type: Theft 3

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3/3/18 at approximately 1735 hours, Anthony Hamby, age 24 of Seward, reported his television was stolen from 14160 Shady Lane #3. The television was described as a 42" Samsung valued at approximately $250.00. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Alaska State Troopers at 907-262-4453. Investigation continues.

    Posted on 3/8/2018 4:17:05 PM by DPS\mazweifel

Headquarters ...No news reported.

AK Wildlife Troopers

  • AK17088860

    Location: Whale Pass
    Type: Commercial Fishing Closed Waters

    Dispatch Text:

    On 03/07/2018 Alaska Wildlife Troopers from Klawock, Petersburg, and Wrangell concluded an investigation which begin in December 2017.  Investigation determined Jonathan McGraw Jr. age 43, from Naukati, Keith Wagner, age 52 from Naukati, and Curtis Looper, age 27 from Naukati were commercially harvesting sea cucumbers from closed waters including from the sea cucumber preserve in Whale Pass.  McGraw’s boat the F/V Bottom Time, a 19 foot aluminum work skiff, his dive gear, and 1263 pounds of sea cucumbers were seized on 12/19/2017.  McGraw was charged with 7 counts of Commercial Fishing Closed Waters, 7 counts of Illegal Possession, 6 counts Falsifying Fish Tickets, 1 count of Violating Conditions of Release, 1 count of Fail to Display Vessel Identification, and 1 count of Employing an Unlicensed Crewmember.  Wagner and Looper were charged with one count each of Commercial Fishing Closed Waters and Illegal Possession.  Looper was additionally charged with one count of No Crewmember License. 

    In all, McGraw is suspected of unlawfully harvesting sea cucumbers on 7 occasions totaling 7,506 pounds of sea cucumbers valued at a total of $35,288.


    Prepared by: DWB2

    Posted on 3/8/2018 1:11:04 PM by DPS\rkwelch

  • AK18015724

    Location: Petersburg
    Type: Sport Fish Multiple Lines

    Dispatch Text:

    On 3-7-18 Thomas Greer, age 69 of Petersburg, was cited by Alaska Wildlife Troopers for sport fishing with too many lines.  Greer was found to be sport fishing with three lines for king salmon when the current regulations allow an angler to sport fish for king salmon with two lines.  Bail is set at $110 in the Petersburg District Court.

    Author: CDL0

    Posted on 3/8/2018 1:17:19 PM by DPS\rkwelch

AK Bureau of Investigation ...No news reported.

AK Bureau of Highway Patrol ...No news reported.

AK Bureau of Judicial Services ...No news reported.

AK Div of Fire and Life Safety ...No news reported.