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Fairbanks Police Department launches webpage for missing persons information

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 4:08 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In order to inform the public about its process for handling missing person cases, the City of Fairbanks has released a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions on its website, as well as a listing of current cases open in the city.

Ron Dupee, Deputy Chief of the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD) said, “Fairbanks Police Department takes every missing person very seriously, and we do the best that we can to locate them as soon as possible.”

The city’s website recommends reporting an individual missing as soon as possible, stating that there is no time requirement. “The longer that the family waits to report or the friend waits to report, the less leads that we’re able to obtain as far as video footage or anything like that,” Dupee said.

He explained that the department regularly works with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force. “It’s a federal program that we participate in. Chief [Richard] Sweet has been attending conference calls and zoom meetings on a regular basis, at least biweekly, at least for the past month, where we go over the cases that we have, we share information with other agencies - Alaska State Troopers, the FBI, any other state or local jurisdictions that would come into play with each other’s missing persons cases.”

Upon receiving a missing person report, an officer is assigned to the case. This officer conducts an initial investigation, which includes finding out the last known location of the missing individual, as well as a physical description.

The person in question is then entered as a missing person into a state and national database. Dupee said, “If we’re unable to find that person within a short period of time, the case is then forwarded up to our detective division and they take over the investigation at that point.”

So far in 2021, Fairbanks Police have received 3 missing person reports. Of these, two remain outstanding, according to Dupee.

Kayce Smith, 37, was last seen staying at a Super 8 motel prior to Christmas 2020, and was reported missing on January 9th. All leads for her case have been exhausted at this time .

Steven Hjelm, 54, was last seen on January 9th walking along 16th Avenue, reportedly going to the store. Dupee explained, “We’ve checked with the local convenience stores. We’re unable to find any footage of him within that time period, and we’ve exhausted all of the leads that we have.”

According to Dupee, FPD received 41 missing person reports in 2020, out of which 40 have been found. The only outstanding case is that of Debbie Nictune.

Nictune, 59, was last seen exiting the Northward Building in downtown Fairbanks on May 19th, 2020. She was reported as missing as a result of a welfare check performed by FPD officers.

Dupee said the FPD has been in contact with her family, solicited help from Alaska State Troopers, and flown, walked and used boats on the Chena river among other methods.

“We get quite a few [missing person cases] a year. Debbie sticks out because, obviously, at this point in time she hasn’t been found. Normally they don’t last this long. Normally they’re found,” Dupee said, adding, “We’ve exhausted all of the leads that we currently have. The only thing we can do is reach out to the public and ask for their assistance.”

Those with information about missing persons are encouraged to call 450-6500 or email investigations@fairbanks.us.

“If they’re around town, obviously we can’t be everywhere. We need the public’s help. Somebody has seen something in these cases, and we just need them to come forward and let us know if they’ve seen any of these individuals so that we can get them returned to their families,” Dupee said.

More information can be found on the City of Fairbanks website.

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