Missing persons

From left to right: Frank Minano, Doren Sanford, Steven Hjelm, Willis Derendoff and Debra Nictune

On Jan. 11, Alaska State Troopers were notified that a body had been found along the Parks Highway north of Willow. Troopers identified the remains as 26-year-old Arnoldine Simone Hill of Hooper Bay.

During their investigation, troopers said they believe Hill had died a few days before her body was left between the evening of Jan. 8 and afternoon of Jan. 9 at a pullout near Mile 81 of the Parks Highway. She was last known to be alive Dec. 20 in Anchorage. Hill is described as an Alaska Native, approximately 4-foot, 11 inches tall, and about 150 pounds. She had shoulder-length brown hair and a distinctive mole below her lower right lip.

Troopers are investigating Hill’s death as a homicide and are asking Alaskans to contact troopers at 907-352-5401 if they have any information. 

Hill’s death is the latest of many missing and/or murdered Alaska Natives in the state. The troopers Missing Persons clearinghouse includes 1,249 people, not all of whom are Native, who have been reported missing dating back to Daniel Gabbert, who went missing in Anchorage in 1954. The list isn’t completely up-to-date, according to Malia Miller, who noted that the database requires manual input. 

However, in the past year, at least 11 people have been reported missing in the Fairbanks area. 

Five of those missing persons are from the Alaska Native community, according to Jody Potts, who in conjunction with the Tanana Chiefs Conference is helping to organize a prayer vigil today in the parking lot of the Chief Peter John Tribal Building, 122 First Ave.

“It’s just very concerning,” Potts said. “A lot of people in the community are very, very concerned and I’d say people are scared right now. I feel it’s really important to come together and have a prayer vigil and a call to action for people with more resources who are able to investigate these missing persons.”

Potts said she feels compassion for Hull’s family and for those around the state missing loved ones, and she knows personally some of the Fairbanks people who are missing. She said members of their families and the community have been reaching out to her. Some of the people the prayer vigil is highlighting include Frank Minano, Debbie Nictune, Doren Sanford and Willis Derendoff.

“It’s a lot and it’s unusual,” she said. “Normally, Fairbanks doesn’t have this many missing persons.”

The prayer vigil begins at noon. Attendees are asked to socially distance and wear a mask. 

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.