ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A typed, anonymous note left with police at the University of Alaska Anchorage said a teenager had been severely beaten and left to die at an abandoned downtown building. The note said the writer felt compelled to tell someone.
"''They said they couldn't live with themselves, that they had to tell, they had to say something," Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Anita Shell said. Officers acting on the tip Monday night found 18-year-old James Clinton in a home scheduled to be demolished two days later.
He was unconscious and in critical condition. Police found an identity card in his pocket but were unsure of his name because of severe injuries to Clinton's face. "It's my understanding he was beaten around the head and the face, the whole body," Shell said.
He was rushed to an Anchorage hospital and on Thursday remained unconscious and in critical condition. "We have not yet spoken to the young man because of his medical state," Shell said. Police have appealed to the note writer to come forward so they can learn why Clinton was beaten.
Two University Police Department officers were on duty at their desks in a squad room at about 8:30 p.m. Monday when the note appeared, University Police Chief Rick Shell said. "One of them got up to do something and noticed a note on the floor," he said. "He picked it up, read it, let the other officer read it. The other officer saw content that led him to believe that the Anchorage Police Department should be involved."
The campus is more than two miles from the abandoned home in downtown Anchorage. Anchorage police found Clinton in the basement. Police initially said he was being held against his will, but spokeswoman Anita Shell said his injuries prevented him from leaving.
The home was owned by Covenant House, which operates a shelter across the street for homeless teenagers. Director Alison Kear said the home was to be demolished to expand a parking lot. Wrought iron mesh had covered the windows and doors were locked, Kear said. A security company had patrolled outside. The only access she could guess was a second-floor window not much bigger than a dog door.
"How they were able to enter there is perplexing to me," she said. Shell did not know if a weapon was used. She could not say Thursday whether the crime scene was the abandoned home or elsewhere. "We gathered evidence from that scene," Shell said. "I don't have specifics on whether that's where the assault took place."
Investigators allowed the scheduled demolition to move forward and a wrecking crew used heavy machinery to knock the building down Thursday morning. University Police Chief Shell praised the quick response by both departments.
"This was just an absolutely outstanding case of two officers taking something that could have been fairly innocuous and taking it seriously," Shell said. "It ended up saving the young man's life."