• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 27s

Family members of Fairbanks Four speak about transition challenges

By Liz Raines 3:25 AM December 21, 2015

A celebration and fundraiser for the men known as the Fairbanks Four — who were released from prison Thursday — was held in Anchorage at the Cook Inlet Tribal Council Sunday afternoon.

Event organizer Rodney McCord says the goal was to raise money for the men to buy Christmas gifts for their loved ones and to help them get back to life outside of prison.

“Eighteen years they spent in there, and who knows what happened?” said Annie Huntington, Eugene Vent’s aunt, speaking to the crowd gathered at the event. “They are smiling now, but we don’t really know what happened.”

Some have already heard stories about what it was like. Kevin Pease’s aunts, Debbie Leach and Billie Buckingham, say Pease, Vent and George Frese were recently told to sleep outside because the Anchorage Jail was overcrowded.

“Churches open up for the homeless at 40 degrees, and the jail guards are telling the inmates, ‘Just take your blankets and go sleep outside,'” said Buckingham.

It was Pease’s aunts that saw the men at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport last week and spread the word there was movement on the case.

“We got right on our phones, and Kevin knew everyone was going to know because he saw us taking pictures of him,” said Leach.

The men were freed without compensation from the state. While some are still outraged by the deal, Leach said Pease is just happy to be out.

“He said, ‘I know it’s going to be hard, I know it’s not going to be easy and even if my record’s wiped clean, there’s always that question of — Where have you been the last 18 years? What’s your work history for the last 18 years?'” said Leach. “But he says nothing’s going to be harder than the last 18 years.”

Family of the men say there’s a long road ahead, as they adjust to life on the other side of the prison walls, and all of the things that didn’t exist 18 years ago, when they went in. Leach and Buckingham say Pease has never used a cell phone, Facebook, GPS or online banking.

Huntington says the men are now in need of the community’s support to “free them from the potential lifestyle they could get into.”

“Justice is still waiting to be served,” Huntington added.

Leach says she’s sure there are many people wrongfully imprisoned in Alaska and says this case is an example.

“They had no evidence, and they had alibis, and they were still convicted,” said Leach. “That’s pretty scary.”



Sunday’s event featured food sales and a silent auction, which organizers say raised more than $7,000 for the men.

Latest Stories

  • News

    March for Science draws large crowd in downtown Anchorage

    by Eric Ruble on Apr 22, 17:33

    About 1,500 Alaskans gathered in downtown Anchorage Saturday morning to stand in solidarity with science. The March for Science is part of a national movement to increase the visibility of the scientific community and voice concerns about President Donald Trump’s policies regarding issues like climate change and healthcare. Bryan Box, a lead organizer for the Anchorage […]

  • Politics

    Trump says he’ll mark 100 days with Pennsylvania rally

    by Associated Press on Apr 22, 16:22

    President Donald Trump says he’ll mark his 100th day in office with a “BIG” rally in Pennsylvania. Trump hits 100 days on April 29 – next Saturday. He tweeted about the rally this Saturday, saying that next week “I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!” Next Saturday night I […]

  • News

    VIDEO: American Airlines flight attendant grounded after altercation caught on camera

    by Associated Press on Apr 22, 16:01

    The Latest on the confrontation on an American Airlines flight (all times local): 6 p.m. A passenger on an American Airlines flight says a flight attendant who has since been grounded nearly hit a baby when he jerked a stroller away from a woman holding the child. Olivia Morgan, an executive with an education-related nonprofit, […]

  • Lifestyle

    Photos: Alaskans march for science on Earth Day

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 22, 15:45

    Over 1,000 participants cheered and waved signs under clear, blue skies Saturday at the March for Science in Downtown Anchorage. The march was part of the larger worldwide event organized on Earth Day to recognize and bring awareness to scientific, fact-based decision making, which many feel has been under threat since the election of President Donald Trump. […]

  • News

    Ketchikan seafood processors to see water rate hikes

    by Associated Press on Apr 22, 13:14

    Officials in Ketchikan have approved an ordinance that more than doubles water rates for the southeast Alaska city’s seafood processors over the next three years. The Ketchikan Daily News reports the City Council approved the ordinance Thursday. Water rates will increase by 35 percent each year over the next three years for Ketchikan’s three fish processors […]

  • News

    New fees instituted at Interior Alaska recreation sites

    by Associated Press on Apr 22, 13:00

    The state will start charging fees for the popular Chena River State Recreation Area and other recreational sites in Interior Alaska next month. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that visitors to the 12 sites within the Chena recreation area will have to pay a $5 entrance fee starting in May. The daily fees will also go […]

  • On-Air

    Inside the Gates: JROTC cadets train on JBER

    by Bonney Bowman on Apr 22, 12:41

    Many high school students join the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program as a way to decide if they want to later enlist in the military. But for some, it’s a way to build confidence before heading to college and the workplace. JROTC cadets from East High School spent the day on Joint Base […]

  • News

    Hillside residents make preparations as wildfire season begins in Southcentral Alaska

    by Eric Ruble on Apr 22, 12:22

    Wildfire season has begun in Southcentral Alaska. People who live on the south end of Anchorage’s Hillside neighborhood got a scare Thursday night when police shut down the Seward Highway so firefighters could work on a fire near mile 105. It took 10 firefighters to get the two-acre fire under control. Michelle Corburn, who lives […]