- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - A 21-year-old man faces two counts of first-degree murder after officials said he killed his parents with an ax, in a case that illustrates the challenges of police work in remote Alaskan villages that do not have law enforcement officers.

Everett Semone of Shageluk was arraigned Thursday at the courthouse in Bethel, appearing via teleconference from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center. Bail was set at $500,000, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled Oct. 20 in Anvik.

Alaska State Troopers said Flossie Semone, 46, and John Arrow, 57, were killed in Shageluk, a village of 83 people. Residents told troopers that the two were the man’s parents.

Although the slayings happened Tuesday night, Alaska State Troopers were unable to reach the village, located about 350 miles west of Anchorage, until Wednesday. Meanwhile, residents had taken Semone into custody and were holding him in a town building. Shageluk does not have law enforcement officers.

“That’s a reality of living in rural Alaska,” said Megan Peters, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, on Friday.

While people in the Lower 48 might complain about law officers taking 15 minutes to arrive at a crime scene, “in a place like rural Alaska, it’s hours and potentially days,” Peters said.

But in this case, the response time does not appear to have made any difference, Peters said. The victims died, and the suspect was in custody long before officers could have responded under the best of circumstances, she said.

Court records indicate Semone is being represented by the public defender’s agency. A call to the office in Bethel seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Friday.

According to charging documents from Sgt. Nicholas Zito, a caller “reported that Everett Semone ‘went crazy’ and attacked his parents Flossie Semone and Arrow with an ax at their Shageluk residence. Everett was reportedly running loose in the village.”

Residents requested troopers that evening, and a medevac flight was arranged out of Bethel to attend to two injured people. Two troopers were to have been on that flight.

However, troopers say residents later called back to say the couple had died, and the hospital canceled the medevac.

Troopers then didn’t have a way to get to Shageluk, which isn’t on the road system, until chartering a flight on Wednesday from Anvik.

After troopers arrived, they found Arrow’s body at the end of the hallway from the front door to the living room, where they found Flossie Semone, the charging document said.

KTUU reported that the charging documents said both suffered wounds “consistent with the use of a hatchet.”

The bodies were sent to Anchorage for autopsies.

The village also lacks a medical care presence. Village officials said that though residents were untrained, they attempted to provide medical care to the couple.

Village and tribal officials have complained about the slow response time of troopers.

Peters said there are challenges in getting law enforcement to remote crime scenes by air. They include finding a pilot and plane, the weather, and safety conditions, such as darkness, she said.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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