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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ketchikan's Missing

By Irene Anderson


July 29, 2016
Friday AM

Dear Editor:

I would like to submit a follow up summation regarding the Missing & Deceased Men and Women in Ketchikan.

We have all been made aware that a 63 year ol gentleman by the name of Harris Hunter Wood has been identified by the Alaska State Troopers as the person found in the water on 7/23/16; I believe cause of death is drowning. As a concerned citizen and human being, I hope that his death will be investigated to determine if accidental or not... Prayers to his family.

I would like to remind the community about the following people:

1) Roy Victor Banhart (my cousin)... he was last seen on 12/30/14 at Berth 4 being asked to vacate a cab.
2) Angeline Dundas.. her body was removed from the water on 7/9/15..she had sought out shelter at WISH less than 24 hrs prior to this
3) Justin Nathan -last seen on Deer Mountain on 11/11/15-remains recovered on 04/16/16
4) Gary Hamilton - last seen at a bank on 11/15/15
5) Chris Hill - committed suicide on Berth 4 in January 2016
6) Thomas Booth - last seen on 1/2/16 @Safeway-remains recovered on 05/10/16

Why are there so many missing people and/or found deceased/perished? There are more questions than answers regarding what has happened to these beloved fathers/brothers/uncles/nephews/sons...mothers...We have 7 people missing/found deceased in less than 20 months.

I would like to request assistance from our local and other native organizations (majority of the people above are native). I'm hoping the Ketchikan Indian Corporation, Tlingit & Haida Central Council and ANB/ANS can offer some support/resources to the families, a program of some sort can be in place when a loved one goes missing to:

  • help with guidance re: responsibilities and rights that continue to exist even though a family member is missing and/or found deceased.....
  • reach out to members of these organizations to share resources to help search (a boat,etc)
  • receive assistance regarding inputting a family member into the NAMUS system (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) --- learn who collects DNA samples and who submits them where (toothbrush/hairbrush)..
  • receive assistance with creating/printing and distributing Missing Person flyers
  • receive assistance to arrange social gatherings where family members and friends can participate in a Walk for the Missing/vigils (Like Gina Such did) and fundraisers (raise funds to offer a reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the missing or help cover ongoing responsibilities of the missing) like Pam Wanda Gant Bushnell and Crystal Nordlund did...

Speaking on behalf of my aunt (Roy's mother), she is disabled/unable to ambulate without a walker and also does not "do" the internet/she only has a land line...she and others that have family mentioned above are in similar situations....some family members of the Missing/Deceased are "old school" like my aunt and/or so distraught that they don't know where to begin/what to do and it still remains unclear to me what to expect from the Ketchikan Police Department when a loved one goes missing (who does what and when do they do it (Search & Rescue/Coast Guard/ Harbormaster/ K9 unit/ FBI) ... I do know from personal experience that local resources are not put into use until the Ketchikan Police Department requests it.

I do not want to forget/leave out:

Danny Wills.. missing x 25 years

Shelly Marie Hudson Brown... her body was found on a barge on 12/6/11. Her family indicate that there was evidence of her being beaten/marks on her body/she was in a abusive relationship.. per family. Per family, "there has been no explanation or discussion made with Shelly's family as to what may have happened by the Ketchikan Police Department".

I continue to hope and pray for my cousin (Roy) to be found and also for Gary to be found. Additionally, that answers and the truth are revealed and those that are guilty of taking a life/lives are held accountable. If Missing Person cases are not treated with thorough protocol, nothing will change...Based on my personal experience and conversations with other family members of the Missing,etc., it appears that law enforcement assumes that because one has been under the influence that most likely they will either: 1) never be found or 2) will be found in the water.

These people all matter. I attended the We Care gathering at the Mall in May 2016 (I believe several Ketchikan City Council members put this together.. doykeshin) and then a City Council meeting on 5/5/16 specifically to be on record regarding the Missing and Deceased Men and Women. I found bones under Berth 4 (3) that I turned into the police; I was told they were most likely from an animal... I wish I could say that I have 100% faith in that determination. Sadly, I continue to feel that if any of these people had been a more upstanding citizen such as employed by the City, government, etc. or a relative to any of these employees, all resources would have been put into full force immediately when it is was known they were missing.

It is still unknown to me the outcome of the FBI's review of 3 cases (Roy, Gary and Thomas)... they were submitted to the Juneau location in Feb or March 2016.

Recently, a gentleman was reported possibly missing on social media - turns out thankfully, it was a false alarm... but, it shows that the community is looking out for one another. Doykeshin.

Thank you for publishing this communication; I really appreciate it.

Irene Anderson
Kirkland, Washington

Received July 27, 2016 - Published July 29, 2016




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