After setting new homicide records in both 2016 and 2017, the year of 2018 offered a reprieve from the increasing violence. Alaska's largest city ended the year with a total of 28 homicides, compared to 37 in 2017.

Now, with new leadership in the Anchorage Police Department's homicide unit, the department is asking witnesses or people with information on unsolved cases to come forward. 

New to the Homicide Unit

Sgt. Bianca Cross' interest in a career with APD started with a simple ride along. Now, she has been with the force for 21 years and is making one of her biggest moves within the department yet. 

"I've always liked people crimes," she explained in an interview. "I started out in burglary and then moved over to sexual assault — also a major person crime — but the opportunity for homicide came up and I didn't think I was gonna get that opportunity again so I decided to jump in and try for it."  

Cross is taking the position vacated by former APD Detective Slav Markiewicz, who recently retired. 

"I want to do a good job," Cross said, when asked about filling the shoes of her predecessor. "[...] I want to be helpful. I want to make sure that I smooth the way for detectives in the unit. They're doing a great job already and I just want to add to that." 

As the new head of APD's Homicide Unit, she'll oversee work on all homicide cases. 

"Every life that's been lost in the city is important," she said. 

As an early matter of business, she's reviewed cases from 2018 and identified four open investigations that need cooperation from witnesses and the public to move forward.

"We know that there's more information that's out there," Cross said. 

A New Year's Eve killing

Anchorage first homicide of 2018 remains unsolved. Timothy Smith, 39, was shot just minutes after midnight at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and D Street. 

Timothy Smith, 39, was killed just minutes after midnight on Jan. 1, 2018. His case remains unsolved.

Though APD has released images of a Chevy Trailblazer they believe is connected to the crime, investigators are still lacking information on who was inside. 

"We were told by witnesses that there was a passenger in the vehicle," said Cross. "Conflicting statements meant that were weren't sure if it was a male or a female inside, but we know there's at least one other person who can give us a good idea of what happened."

Anchorage police are seeking this Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUV in connection with a Jan. 1, 2018 homicide. (From APD)

In addition to the unidentified passenger, Cross believes more people in the crowd might have witnessed something that they didn't believe to be significant at the time but could help advance the case. 

"The person in the vehicle can come forward and tell them exactly what they saw, but there's people outside of the vehicle who know just as much information who could easily come forward and talk with us," Cross said. 

Fatal shooting in Jewel Lake 

Homicide victim Kevin Napier, 37, was killed in August 2018. Cross said he went to the Jewel Lake Villa Apartment Complex to visit a friend.

"Went there, talked with his friend, decided to go to another apartment in the building, went upstairs, we know that shots were fired then and he was found deceased in the doorway," Cross explained, saying APD doesn't have much more to go on. "That's most of what we know. We did have witnesses who told us they saw a male in the area. That male left the area before we arrived and we don't have a consistent description of that man." 

A family member who didn't wish to be identified by name, citing safety reasons, sent this statement to KTVA:  

"The loss of Kevin has been a heart breaking tragedy to the family. He was only 37 years old when someone decided to carelessly end his life while he was at the Jewel Lake Villa apartments and rob his family, friends and most of all his kids of making any future memories together with him. We are all reminded on a daily basis when doing every day tasks and on every holiday the sadness of his loss. He was a loving man that grew up in Anchorage who enjoyed fishing, camping, barbecuing and spending time with his family. He will be forever greatly missed and loved in our hearts. Never did we imagine this would happen to our family and hope that anyone who has information will come forward as they would want others to do if it were their loved one. We ask that any witnesses please call the the anchorage police department or the anonymous crime stoppers line at #(907) 561-STOP with any information that would be helpful in bringing him and his family justice."

An APD spokesperson said part of the investigation has been linked to drug activity. 

Caught in Mountain View Crossfire 

Police don't believe 23-year-old Jenna Delkittie was a target in an October shooting in Mountain View. She was returning from a shopping trip with a friend, when she got caught in the crossfire. 

"They were just about to the doorway of the residence when shots were fired between two different parties, and Delkittie and her friend happened to be in the middle of that," Cross said. 

APD says Delkittie, an innocent bystander, died days later at the hospital. 

No suspect information for the people shooting at each other has been released. 

Death at the Black Angus Inn 

In November, APD investigated a homicide at the Black Angus Inn, where 59-year-old James Page Jr. was shot and killed.

"He did meet up with a couple different people there," Cross said. "He went into a room and was somehow found deceased a short time later." 

When asked if investigators were able to speak with anyone in the room, Cross said they've spoken to every witness available to them. 

They also were able to contact a woman who is a person of interest in the case, who Cross said was cooperative. 

Now, they're looking for someone else. 

"Specifically, there's a male out there we would like to speak with who's a person of interest," said Cross. 

APD released the man's image on Monday, in the hopes that someone will know who he is and contact police. 

How the community can help

"We get to determine what kind of community we want to live in," said Cross. "So if we want to live in a safe community we have a responsibility to share information about the people who are committing thefts or burglaries in our area, about the strange things we see that we don't feel are right or know aren't right — if we want it to be a place where we can feel safe letting our kids run around outside or be safe on the trails, then we need to be reporters for one another."  

While these are the cases APD is asking for help with now, Cross says no open case is forgotten. 

"We do whatever we can to move forward with these cases," she said. "They don't just end because a new year comes on." 

APD currently lists the 2018 deaths of Timothy SmithKevin NapierHezekiah SchwichtenbergDavid RodriguezJenna DelkittieJames Page Sr., and Tupou Satini Jr. as unsolved.

Anyone with information about these open cases, the identity or whereabouts of persons of interest or surveillance video is asked to call Dispatch at 311 (option 1) or Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP. 

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.

RELATED NEWS COVERAGE: