ANCHORAGE - An ornery old man and a young mother of three are the latest homeless people to die during a sad stretch on the streets of Anchorage.
The discoveries of 69-year-old Eugene Williams and 25-year-old Elouise Apigi Okakok make it 11 homeless people to be found dead since May. Police say alcohol has played a role in many of the deaths, but one man was beaten and another hit by a vehicle.
Police released the names of Williams and Okakok on Tuesday, and autopsies are pending. But there were no signs of foul play, police said.
Williams' body was found in a sleeping bag Sunday, in woods about 100 feet from an intersection.
"Never known him to work a long job," his brother-in-law, Gerald Newton, told the Anchorage Daily News. Newton, 65, said Williams would hitchhike around the state and occasionally phone in. The family last heard from him around Independence Day.
Williams had a drinking problem and wouldn't accept help, Newton said.
"He got in trouble a lot. He'd get drunk; he gets ornery," Newton said.
"Just little stuff like hitting somebody or urinating on the street or something like that," he added. "It was like he didn't care; he just got to the point where he didn't care."
Okakok lived in Barrow and Point Hope before coming to Anchorage in 2007. She had been getting help from Homeward Bound, which helps the homeless find housing and overcome substance abuse, said her brother, William Okakok, who said he has been in Anchorage trying to help his sister come home.
"She was doing fine. She was trying to find a way to go back to Barrow," he said. "She considered Barrow her home."
Okakok had three children - two living with their grandmother and another in foster care. Her death was initially described as suspicious, but Lt. Dave Parker said investigators found no evidence to support that.
On Thursday night, she camped in Earl and Muriel King Park with her boyfriend, who awoke to the lifeless body and failed to revive her, William Okakok said.
Witnesses reported hearing a man screaming a woman's name.
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