‘Person of interest,’ 2 witnesses sought in Spenard homicide
Anchorage police have declared a suspicious death discovered Monday in Spenard the city’s sixth homicide of 2018, releasing a photo of a “person of interest” and speaking with one of three witnesses sought in the investigation.
Police said Wednesday afternoon that detectives wish to speak with 24-year-old Cassandra Pitka, as well as an unidentified man "whom witnesses have placed at the scene." Earlier Wednesday police said they had spoken with a third witness whose name APD had released, 43-year-old Oinree Devoe.
Officers had responded to a home on the 1100 block of Chugach Way for a death investigation at about 1 p.m. Monday, remaining at the residence overnight.
“Upon arrival officers located 36-year-old Tyshaun Gray deceased inside the home,” police wrote. “After processing the scene and interviewing multiple witnesses it has been determined that this is a homicide and an isolated incident.”
Police have named 23-year-old Thomas Horton as a “person of interest” in the case, and are hoping to speak with him. Horton remained at large Wednesday, according to police.
APD spokesman MJ Thim said Tuesday afternoon that Gray was the same man arrested on indecent-exposure charges in October, after witnesses said he was spotted masturbating in a vehicle. The department's recently formed Investigative Support Unit boxed Gray's vehicle in after a chase that saw him driving on sidewalks, arresting him after a brief foot chase.
APD Lt. John McKinnon, head of the department’s robbery, assault and homicide unit, said Gray’s family had been notified and were “working with police about what took place.” He said the residence where Gray’s body was found Monday, by a family member checking up on him, was not his home.
“We want to assure the public that this incident was not a random act of violence,” McKinnon said. “The individuals that were involved here all seemed to have some degree of acquaintance and knew each other.”
McKinnon declined to discuss how Gray had been killed, citing the need to keep some initial details confidential, but said that his death had not occurred immediately before officers responded Monday.
“Whenever we have a delay in a report, that’s something that always creates a problem for us,” McKinnon said. “It’s not something that we can’t overcome.”
Asked if Horton was considered a suspect in the crime, McKinnon emphasized that every case has a person of interest – and that “there are two sides to every story.”
“We’re not speculating about what his involvement was, so that we can interview him and get his side of the story,” McKinnon said.
Anyone with information on Horton’s whereabouts is asked to call APD at 311 or contact Anchorage Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or through its website.
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