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Anchorage police seek friends of man left for dead

September 21, 2013

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police hope a photograph of a severely beaten teenager will jog the memory of witnesses who can help piece together how he was left to die in an abandoned downtown home.

Police are investigating the assault on James Clinton, 18, who was found Monday night unconscious and in critical condition in a home scheduled to be demolished Wednesday. The home is a block away from the main Anchorage federal building, which includes the federal courthouse.

Police say Clinton likely would have died if an anonymous, typewritten note had not been slipped more than 2 miles away under the door of a squad room of University of Alaska Anchorage police.

The note said Clinton had been left in the house. Police have revealed few other details other than the tipster saying he or she “could not live with myself” if the note had not been passed.

Clinton carried an identity card. His name was not released until Thursday, in part because his severe face injuries hampered positive identification, police said. Police also wanted to notify his next of kin.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said Friday investigators have not confirmed where Clinton lived.

“We are kind of working on nailing down some of those details about his residence,” she said. “I don’t believe he was born and raised in Anchorage. We’re not sure how long he’s been in Anchorage.”

The Anchorage School District confirmed that Clinton had attended school in Anchorage, most recently in 2011, but did not graduate from an Anchorage high school.

Castro said Clinton may have been known by nicknames.

“We didn’t believe that people necessarily would recognize him or know him as James Clinton, and so by putting his photo out there, we were hoping that maybe other people would say, ‘Hey, I know that guy,’ or I’ve seen him here or there — he knows so and so, and that kind of a thing.”

Investigators hope to learn details of events leading to Clinton’s injuries.

“One of those is time frame — trying to determine how long he was in this house for,” Castro said. “In terms of the assault, was there one big incident? Were there multiple assaults that were occurring over periods of time?”

Police have been in contact with a family member. Other people have claimed to be family member, Castro said, and investigators are trying to confirm that.

Police will take information on the case directly or anonymously through the Crimestoppers program. Good information came in anonymously Thursday after Clinton’s photo was released, she said.

Police allowed the home to be demolished Thursday. It was owned by Covenant House, which operates a shelter for homeless teens across the street. The property will be used for parking.

Clinton remained unconscious Friday at an Anchorage hospital.

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