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Father and friends honor deceased daughter in Seattle. Juneau woman's death still being investigated.

Juneau woman’s death still being investigated

Posted: April 16, 2011 - 9:44pm
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Sakara Kachina Yepa Dunlap, known as Sky to family and friends.   Submitted photo
Submitted photo
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Sakara Kachina Yepa Dunlap, known as Sky to family and friends.

Like he had done so many times before, theatrical director Seneca Harper applied make up to best friend Sky Dunlap’s face for her next great journey.

“She likes the Native American Sioux circle,” Harper explained. “A circle divided into four parts. Red, blue, yellow and white.”

Family and friends picked out her favorite rainbow colored dress for her to wear. They matched it with a favorite purple and gold scarf.

Eagle feathers were in her hands and a cedar tree frond on her lap. An old pair of moccasins that had been on Sky’s feet when she traveled from East to West Coast, pedaled from Skagway to Seattle, and skipped along stage after stage, still fit comfortably with the wardrobe.

Michael Dunlap, Sky’s father, gave her a piece of chocolate because, “she loves chocolate.”

This scene should have been Sky’s next theater performance, or her next foreign trip, or her next hike up Mt. Juneau with friends.

Instead it was Sakara Kachina Yepa Dunlap’s cremation in Seattle last Thursday.

“I know the source of her love,” Michael Dunlap said. “She gave so much love out into the universe and now all that universe of love is pouring out for Sky.”

Friends and family of Sky led a walk last Wednesday from Pikes Place Market on the Seattle waterfront over a mile up the streets to Sky’s apartment at 1722 Summitt Avenue.

Along the way, members of the Seattle community joined the procession. Guitars and ukuleles and poets and singers, artists and businessmen, those who knew Sky celebrated her life outside the orange door of Apartment 112 where Sky died.

Sky’s boyfriend Abdu Salaam found her hanging with a Tae Kwon Do belt around her neck upon his return from a night out at a bar called the Baltic Room in the early hours of April 5.

Sky’s mother last spoke with her daughter around 9 p.m. April 4. The family has stated they cannot get any information concerning Sky’s passing. They enlisted the aid of an investigator who has reached out to various organizations for help including the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“We were approached by the family and asked if we could facilitate them getting some information from the police department,” WSCADV caseworker Jake Fawcett said in a phone interview. “We are really not involved in this. I don’t think I can say anything that would be helpful.”

Phone calls to Seattle Police Department Chief John Diaz and Sergeant Mark Worstman, both involved in the case, have not been returned.

In a phone interview, an investigator for the King County Medical Examiners Office stated, “It’s still all pending toxicology, so we won’t have anything for about eight to 10 weeks from April 4.”

The medical examiner said toxicology tests look for drugs and poisons in the blood stream and are a normal testing. All the additional samples they need are taken at autopsy the examiner stated. The results are separate from the police crime scene investigation.

Days before the cremation, Sky’s brother Tyee was perplexed as to why a song was stuck in his mind. He found himself humming and singing the Frankie Valli hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

As family and friends gathered the last of Sky’s possessions from her apartment a plastic bag was discovered tucked in a bathroom cabinet. A journal of Sky’s was inside. In Sky’s own handwriting were the lyrics to the song.

When Sky was ready for her next adventure, before Sky would depart dressed and lovely as they remembered, family and friends held hands next to her body and sang “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

“We sang it to her when laying her in state,” Michael Dunlap said. “We would love to practice it and sing it for the folk festival or have someone sing it. Sky loved the folk festival. She loved everything about Juneau, about Alaska, about the universe.”

Michael said he didn’t know how to walk into her apartment or what would happen but only that, “We have to do this, we have to bring her home.”

Michael and Tyee Dunlap are tentatively scheduled to bring Sky home tonight on Alaska Airlines flight 69 at 9:20 p.m.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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