Troopers search for two suspects in Seward death

Posted: Monday, May 22, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Alaska State Troopers are searching for two men suspected in the rape of a Seward woman who was found dead in her home May 6, two days after the assault.

Troopers say Trefena Probert, 40, died of alcohol poisoning. A memorial service was held for Probert on Saturday.

Both suspects in the rape are described as white males, 30 to 35 years old with shoulder-length dark hair. Both wore plaid shirts, blue jeans and rubber boots.

''We're also pursuing a few other leads as far as their descriptions that would only be known to a few people, said Trooper Sgt. Brandon Anderson. ''The descriptions led us to believe they had something to do with boats.''

Anderson said the information has been distributed throughout Southcentral Alaska.

''I'm hoping that somebody sees them or recognizes them,'' said Shirley Snyder of Anchor Point, who is Probert's sister.

On May 4, Probert, who worked as a waitress, had been at a Seward bar before returning home late that night.

As she was unlocked her door, the two men reportedly arrived at the small house in a silver sport-utility vehicle, pushed their way in and assaulted her.

Bill Donaven, an ex-boyfriend of Probert's, said she called him afterward and told him what had happened.

''When I first got there, she was really shaken,'' Donaven told the Peninsula Clarion. ''She was pretty beaten up.''

Probert refused to go to Soldotna for a sexual assault examination. She spent May 5 with Donaven, looking around Seward for the suspects and their vehicle.

''I think she had her mind set on getting revenge and I really felt like she wanted to make it through to the next day,'' said friend Dawn-Marie Toms. ''But she was physically and emotionally in pain.''

Donaven said he last saw Probert on the evening of May 5. He offered to stay with her overnight, but she said no. She also declined an offer to stay with Toms.

Friends discovered her body the next day when they weren't able to get into touch with her. Last Friday, troopers reported alcohol poisoning as cause of death.

''She had had a lot of trouble in her life,'' said ex-husband Mark Probert, who came north from Washington state for the memorial service. ''This was simply the final thing.''

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