Alaska National Guard trying to get trainee back home

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Pvt. Stephanie Marie Foxie fell through the cracks.

The 19-year-old Alaska National Guard trainee was missing for months before the guard here determined she was living in Illinois in the home of a convicted felon.

Foxie, a Native from the village of Stebbins on Alaska's West Coast, headed to Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., for basic training in September. She finished training and was granted a two-week leave to visit with an aunt in Decatur, Ill. She was due back at Fort Jackson in early January. She never returned.

Foxie was declared AWOL on Jan. 8. She was dropped from the rolls on Feb. 6. But no one in the Army called the Alaska National Guard to tell them one of their soldiers was missing.

''As far as we can tell Fort Jackson did not notify the Alaska Guard,'' said Karen Soule, an assistant public affairs officer at Fort Jackson. ''We're looking into what occurred.''

All agree the Alaska Guard should have been told about Foxie's status.

''We're surely amazed with the lack of contact,'' said Maj. Mike Haller, spokesman for the Alaska National Guard.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Korenek, commander of the Alaska National Guard, said the lack of communication is puzzling. He's talking with Army officials to try and find out what happened.

''Basically the Army owns them (trainees) until we get them back to Alaska,'' he said. ''There is still a big hole in this.''

The Guard believes Foxie is staying with Daniel Boehme, a 42-year-old man with a violent past and lengthy criminal history going back to 1976. In 1990, Boehme was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing a man with a baseball bat. In 1998, he was returned to prison after pleading guilty to domestic battery after taking a baseball bat to his wife. He is now out on $25,000 bail on a charge of aggravated restraint for allegedly holding his stepdaughter against her will.

''I think with what evidence we have ... she may well have been recruited into a circumstance where she is living with a known felon with a brutal lifestyle,'' Haller said. ''This is like a bad movie but it is happening in real life.''

Korenek said the Alaska National Guard is not interested in punishing Foxie. The Guard is a voluntary organization so things are handled differently than if she was official Army. Even so, Korenek said if the Guard had been told Foxie had dropped out of training, it might have been able to get her to join back up. Now it's not sure what can be done.

Her recruiter, Maj. Mike Albertson in Nome, said he would have liked to have known Foxie was on her own.

''She didn't have a lot of life experience,'' he said. About 550 people live in Stebbins.

Foxie sent him postcards during training. She was supposed to be enrolled in February in medic training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Things appeared to be going well for her.

Albertson said he received paperwork in mid-January that said Foxie had completed basic training but was not enrolled in medic school. He said that didn't necessarily raise a red flag. It easily could have been a computer glitch. Perhaps she switched schools.

Fort Sam Houston wouldn't have reported her missing because they had no paperwork from Fort Jackson, said public affairs officer Phil Reidinger.

There were no signs of trouble early on, Haller said.

''We knew things seemed to be going well,'' Haller said.

But when Albertson started receiving phone calls from Foxie beginning in the middle of March, she sounded different. She made short calls from pay phones and said she couldn't talk long.

In April, she was treated for cuts and bruising at the Decatur Memorial Hospital emergency room, according to the Herald & Review newspaper in Decatur. She admitted a man beat her up but refused to cooperate with police.

On May 30, Foxie called Albertson and told him she'd dropped out but wanted to resume her training. She supplied an address where she was staying in Decatur. A recruiter with the National Guard in Illinois volunteered to go to the home and try to return her to Fort Jackson. When the recruiter showed up, Foxie bolted out the back door. The next day she got on a bus to Fort Jackson at the urging of the Illinoi recruiter, but later slipped off and returned to Decatur.

Foxie's father, Andrew, said his middle child called a few days ago from a pay phone and said she wants to come home.

''I'm worried,'' he said. ''She is a nice, intelligent girl, a very helpful girl.'' Foxie needs to go subsistence fishing for herring but feels he must stay home until his child is out of trouble. Two phone numbers she used previously have been disconnected.

If Stephanie would just ask the police for help, the Guard would send her father to Decatur to go to the home with a police escort.

The Herald & Review said the police recently went to Boehme's address and talked with Foxie but she reportedly told them she didn't need help.

The responsibility for Guard trainees sent to the Army for training is ambiguous, Korenek said.

The Army at Fort Jackson thinks Foxie is at least partially responsible.

''We feel she has culpability for her actions,'' Soule said.

Korenek's view is different.

''We feel a responsibility ... to be parents to these youngsters.''

A year ago Korenek said he brought up a hypothetical situation with Army officials that turned out to be very similar to the Foxie case. In the next month or two, he'll be meeting with the head of Army training. ''Now, I've got a real example,'' he said.

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