Body may be man on the run

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2006

ANCHORAGE - A body found by tourists rafting the Yukon River may belong to a man who was on the run with his underage girlfriend, according to Alaska State Troopers.

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James Waskey, 19, of Mountain Village, has been wanted for more than a month on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His pregnant girlfriend is 15 years old.

Waskey also is wanted for allegedly stealing a skiff in late July, said trooper Teague Widmier in Bethel. That was when the pair apparently fled after parents and troopers started looking into the illicit romance.

Alaska law prohibits sexual relations between an adult 18 or older and a child under 16.

The two traveled up the river, camping in the woods for about three weeks and stealing food, guns and gas from fish camps, according to reports from people in villages, Widmier said.

The girl was found safe and healthy on Aug. 12, but the hunt for Waskey continued.

The decomposed body that is believed to be Waskey was caught in the hull of the Canadians' raft. No one else is reported missing from the Mountain Village area, Widmier said. The Yup'ik village on the lower Yukon is 428 air miles northwest of Anchorage.

It appears the girl, who is eight months pregnant, voluntarily left home, said Sgt. Robert Baty in Aniak.

He and other troopers found her at the couple's campsite in the woods near Russian Mission. She was sitting under a rain tarp strung between trees with an assortment of canned food and salmon nearby.

"She told me she wasn't forced to go," Baty said, "that they had planned to run away."

After fleeing the village, the couple apparently traveled up the Yukon in the skiff, troopers said. It was recovered about 10 miles upriver from Russian Mission, four days after it was reported stolen July 22, Widmier said.

The body snagged by the rafters' had been in the water at least a week when it was found Tuesday.

It appears there was no foul play and the individual drowned, Widmier said.

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