Sixth Anchorage death raises questions of serial killer

Posted: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The weekend murder of an Anchorage woman brings to six the number of women killed in the past 15 months whose deaths remain unsolved.

And similarities among the deaths have raised questions about whether they are the work of a serial killer.

Della Marie Brown, 33, of Anchorage was found dead early Saturday morning in a shed in the city's Spenard neighborhood. Investigators did not disclose the cause of death but said the case is being investigated as a homicide.

''There are some similarities (between the recent homicides), and there are some differences,'' said Anchorage police detective Sgt. Ken Spadafora. ''The department has been getting a lot of calls from people asking if these (deaths) are of a serial nature. We are not going to close our minds to that possibility or any other. But I'm just trying to answer the rumors and to guarantee that we are putting a high priority on these cases.''

The similarities are that Brown and four other victims were Alaska Natives. A sixth victim, killed last summer, was black. Spadafora said the lives of all the victims included high-risk factors, meaning they were homeless or substance abusers or both.

In addition to Brown, the victims Spadafora referred to are:

--Tina Shangin, 59, found Aug. 6, 2000 in a wooded area along the Glenn Highway. Police have not released a cause of death.

--Genevieve Tetpon, 29, found March 22, 2000, stabbed to death off Arctic Valley Road.

--Michelle Foster Butler, 38, found Sept. 26, 1999, stabbed to death at the corner of East 10th Avenue and Juneau Street.

--Annie Mann, 45, found Aug. 8, 1999, dead behind an abandoned warehouse.

--Vera Hapoff, 25, found June 6, 1999, drowned in the Ship Creek fish ladder. Police first labeled her death suspicious, then started investigating it as a homicide later that summer.

Spadafora said extra detectives have been assigned to the cases, even the unsolved homicides from last summer. He would not say whether investigators have identified any suspect or suspects.

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