Highway fatality still a mystery

Police don't know how woman ended up in middle of road

Posted: Monday, January 22, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police want to find out how a 29-year-old woman came to be standing in the middle of a dark rural highway, where she was struck and killed by a pickup truck.

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Mariah Morry, most recently of Wasilla, was struck at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday night on the Glenn Highway near the Palmer Alternate road just south of the Palmer Hay flats, far from homes or other buildings.

Police found no footprints to suggest Morry walked to the location and found no broken-down or parked vehicle nearby. She was carrying no keys and only a few dollars and her Bureau of Indian Affairs identification card.

Autopsy results indicate she had drank a lot of beer that night. An impression in the snow bank along the road showed she had sat down. But police do not know how she got there or why she walked into the southbound lane and stood there.

"It's kind of weird," said Lt. Nancy Reeder, police traffic-unit commander. "For lack of a better expression, it's almost like she just appeared out of thin air ... We believe, though we can't prove it, that she was either told to get out of a car there, or for whatever reason was dropped off there, which is bizarre."

The driver of the pickup truck, Rodolfo Primera, 56, swerved left into the center median to try to avoid hitting Morry. Given the darkness and icy roads, he probably could not avoid striking Morry, Reeder said. He has not been cited.

Morry was born and raised in Anaktuvuk Pass, a Brooks Range village of about 300. She had moved to Anchorage but recently moved again to a Wasilla apartment.

She had a boyfriend, also a Wasilla resident. Family members only know his first name and police have been unable to find him, Reeder said.

"We need to track him down because we have some concerns we need to address," Reeder said. "Alcohol being involved tells us a little bit. What it doesn't tell us is why she would still be standing in the middle of the road. She was actually in the roadway, just standing there. Not like she was walking along the road. Nothing like that. That's a little bizarre."

Police hope friends and family will be able to say whether she was happy, how she spent the evening leading up to her death and how she got to the highway.

"It could be something sinister, like she was pushed out of a car, or maybe she had a fight with somebody and told them to let her out of the car," Reeder said.

Franc Fallico, Alaska state medical examiner, said the official cause of death "multiple blunt force injuries due to motor vehicle impact." Fallico said his office has not determined "the manner of death," which he described as the circumstances under which a death occurs.

"We don't know because there are many possibilities," Fallico said. "Did she go there voluntarily? Was she with someone who brought her there involuntarily? It's all speculative right now."

"This is the type of case where there's always that potential that we'll never have some of these questions answered and there will always be unknowns," he added.

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