Police release additional information in homicide of Fairbanks woman

Fairbanks Police Chief Nancy Reeder joined by District Attorney Joe Dallarie and FPD Detective...
Fairbanks Police Chief Nancy Reeder joined by District Attorney Joe Dallarie and FPD Detective Avery Thompson for a press conference about the investigation into Kristen Huntington's death. (John Dougherty/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Jan. 17, 2020 at 2:29 PM AKST
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The Fairbanks Police Department held a press conference on Friday to give more details about the death of Kristen Huntington.

Chief Reeder revealed that they arrested Huntington’s boyfriend Eric Rustad at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital at around six o’clock on Thursday night. They have charged him with first degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and misconduct with a corpse.

According to court documents, Rustad has a long history of criminal acts including multiple convictions for assault and domestic violence. In May of 2019 he was arrested for fourth degree assault and criminal mischief against Huntington. He took a plea deal in that case on Dec. 19, 2019.

On Jan. 4, 2020 police responded to their apartment for a report of a disturbance and arrested Huntington for biting Rustad. Huntington admitted to biting Rustad but said she did it out of self-defense and that she was being thrown around by her hair. Police did not see any injuries on Huntington and charged her with forth degree assault.

When asked about why they chose to believe Rustad instead of Huntington, Reeder said, “Officers go with the information they have at the time, they don’t look at the criminal history, the criminal history goes to sentencing considerations later on.”

When pressed about whether the outcome would be different had officers arrested Huntington on Jan. 4 Reeder said, “I think that you are making assumptions on facts that you do not have in front of you. I will tell you that officers make arrests and make decisions on cases based on the facts that they have in front of them. If there was a no contact order with either one of them at that time, officers would have dealt with that at that time, somebody would have gone to jail for violation of a court order, for violations of conditions of release.”

One of the terms of the plea deal taken by Rustad on Dec. 19 was to have no contact with the victim, Kristen Huntington. It is unclear if this condition was still in effect on Jan 4.

According to Police Chief Nancy Reeder, FPD was notified of a missing person on Jan. 10. A friend of Kristen Huntington said that they had not seen Huntington since the night of Jan. 8. Police officers went to her apartment a few hours after the report and contacted Rustad who allowed police to search the apartment. They found no sign of Huntington in the apartment.

In the evening of Jan. 11, Reeder said that Rustad came to the lobby of the police department and then, “did some self-inflicted wounds to his wrists and hands.” She said he was then taken to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Police then went back to the apartment and still did not find anything. On Sunday evening, January 12th, they received a tip from the owner of the building that there was a vacant apartment in the building. When they searched that building they found human remains and an autopsy revealed that the remains belonged to Huntington.

Charging documents list the cause of death as brain injury from blunt force trauma to the head. Rustad allegedly claimed he was drinking and blacked out. He woke up in his bed and took his child to school, when he returned home he found Huntington dead.

Rustad was charged with misconduct involving a corpse for moving and attempting to conceal the body in a vacant apartment.

Rustad was set to be arraigned today but refused to appear, the judge set his arraignment over until next Wednesday.

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