An Army veteran who repaired sensitive electronics, Elias Joven joined the Juneau Police Department with the hopes of one day becoming a detective specializing in computer forensic technology.
“I’ve always had an interest in electronics,” said the 44-year-old, originally from Bakersfield, Calif. “It was always my goal to become a detective and hopefully get that position,”
Now after 10 years on the force, four of which were spent in the aforementioned role, Joven is leaving JPD for a job in Washington with the Walla Walla Police Department. His last day with JPD was last Monday.
Joven previously worked for the Walla Walla Police Department in 1998 for three years as an emergency services dispatcher and for a year as a reserve police officer. Walla Walla is located about 40 miles east of Kennewick and about 260 miles from Seattle. He begins his new job as a patrol officer there this week.
“I always wanted to come back to the region, I always considered it home,” he said.
Joven joined JPD in July 2003 as a patrol officer and made detective in 2008. Fulfilling his goal, he was selected to be the detective assigned to computer forensic technology and received specialized training to investigate crimes involving computers, including Internet crimes against children and child pornography cases. He was a member of the statewide Alaska Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which targets sexual predators exploiting children online.
In addition to doing that specialized work, Joven was a detective was assigned to the crimes against people unit (as opposed to the property crimes unit). He predominantly investigated sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor cases alongside his partner Detective Kim Horn.
His work in that role garnered him multiple accolades from the department, including police officer of the year in 2010 for his role as the lead detective in the Christopher Scholes’ kidnapping case. Scholes had kidnapped a 15-year-old girl walking on a path near Floyd Dryden Middle School in December 2008 and drove her to his house where he sexually assaulted her and raped her. Scholes returned to the victim to the school two hours later, blindfolded.
The victim did not know her captor, but police were able to identify Scholes as the kidnapper based on descriptors from the girl and a tip from the public from someone who thought the descriptors police released matched Scholes’ description. JPD located Scholes out of state and extradited him back to Alaska. He ultimately pleaded guilty to kidnapping, sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor and was sentenced to 70 years in prison with 30 years suspended, or 40 years to serve.
Joven described the crime as heinous, and also rare for the Juneau area where stranger-on-stranger attacks are infrequent.
“We hadn’t had that type of crime in a long time, and we were able to solve it and get a conviction,” he said.
The detective also received an award for outstanding police service, as did the others who worked on the case, for investigating the severe beating of a 2-year-old in 2010, an assault that left the toddler with a severe brain injury and permanently disabled. Police arrested the toddler’s mother’s ex-boyfriend, Nicholas Kokotovich, in connection to the crime. Kokotovich later pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with five years suspended, or 15 years to serve.
Joven had the idea to videotape the little girl at the police station, a video that was played for the judge at sentencing. It showed her dragging herself across the floor, as she could not use her left arm, leg or left side of her body. She played with a stuffed bear and with Joven and Horn.
“It was the saddest thing I had ever seen,” Joven said in an interview Friday.
Joven said the foster parents who adopted the toddler keep in touch with him, and just recently sent him a video of the girl walking.
“She doesn’t walk well, but she can walk,” he said, adding that the foster parents are “wonderful people. She’s well taken care of now.”
When asked how he copes with investigating such tragic cases, Joven said he leaned on Horn for emotional support, and vice versa.
“It’s so important to work as a team,” he said. “Detective Horn and I worked that case together, vented to one another and shared emotions and worked together to get a conviction.”
He added that helping people is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a police officer.
“You’re helping people at the most traumatic points in their lives, and to be able to help them, that’s rewarding in and of itself,” he said.
Joven was a detective for four years and switched back to being a patrol officer in 2012. JPD regularly rotates its detectives so everyone qualified can apply for the position.
Joven said he appreciates everything he learned at JPD, and said the people he worked with were always “professional and excellent.”
“It was my pleasure to serve that community in the time that I had there,” he said. “I’m certainly going to miss the area and the people.”
He said he’s looking forward to returning to Walla Walla, where some of his old coworkers and friends still work a decade later.
“It’s like coming back home,” he said.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.