Frustrated with investigation, mother of homicide victim pleads for witnesses to help
At 18 years old, Elijah Zeller showed a lot of promise. The Alaska Military Youth Academy graduate recently completed a carpentry program at the top of his class. He was also planning to become a Marine.
“I’m so proud of what he did and accomplished in his life, even at a young age,” said his mother, Sharon Menzo.
Zeller was killed on July 30. He was dropped off at an Anchorage hospital with a gunshot wound and died a short time later. The Anchorage Police Department (APD) has been unable to identify any suspects, but say reports of shots fired at a house party on the 5000 block of Cape Seville Drive in South Anchorage is likely connected. Menzo said her son was at the party.
“There were so many people there. It just takes one or two people to, you know, say something about it,” she said.
Menzo estimated there were at least 100 people at the party, since her daughter dropped Zeller off that evening. She said people are afraid to speak up about who killed her son.
“We need help here,” Menzo said. “Nothing’s moving forward because people aren’t taking a stand.”
Menzo has become frustrated with APD. She said her calls often go unanswered.
“I’ve called several times – four or five times, and I’m the one who initiates it,” she said. “And I’ve gotten one phone call back.”
In an email, APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro said she was unable to contact the lead investigator in the case because “he and other homicide detectives are completely wrapped up” in investigating the Hillside standoff and Thursday night’s shooting. Castro said investigators are often in regular contact with a victim’s family.
“It is very unusual for them to not have consistent contact with the victim’s immediate family,” Castro wrote, adding that victims’ loved ones can sometimes feel like there is not activity in a case because little information can be shared about investigators’ progress. “That can make folks feel like nothing is being done on their case because they aren’t aware or able to know everything that’s going on or being looked at.”
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call APD at 907-786-8900. An anonymous tip can be submitted to Crime Stoppers by calling 907-561-7867.
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