Dead body found in Juneau building

One week ago, a homeless Juneau resident searched an abandoned building in hopes of finding “treasure,” a favorite pastime of his. But instead of finding a keepsake, he made an unexpected discovery — a dead man’s body.

Joshua, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said he was with his girlfriend last Tuesday  afternoon, roaming the building on Gastineau Avenue that sits just behind the Glory Hole homeless shelter and soup kitchen. From the man’s attire alone, Joshua thought he knew who he saw sleeping in the corner, although the man didn’t have his hood on like he did all the other times Joshua saw him on the street.

“Just by looking at his hands you could tell that he was not there any more,” Joshua said. “It was pretty hard to look at. It looked like he died in his sleep.”

Joshua said he did not know the man’s name, despite prior efforts to communicate with him.

“I’ve tried talking to the guy in the past, he wouldn’t say a word to me. We all figured he was set in his hermit ways,” he said.

Joshua alerted the Juneau Police Department to the body’s location at approximately 1:27 p.m. last Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Lt. David Campbell told the Empire by phone Monday the man has still not been identified, although officers are fairly certain they recognize him from past encounters and that he was known for living somewhat of a hermit lifestyle.

Campbell said aside from an official medical examiner’s report, the other thing keeping officers from identifying the body with absolute certainty is the state it was found in — slightly mummified.

“The person had been deceased for quite a while, several months is the guess,” Campbell said.

Joshua said the man no longer looked like the man he often saw rummaging through garbage cans for plastic. His skin tone, normally white, was like dark leather when he found him. He did recognize the snow boots covering the man’s feet, though; they were just like the ones Joshua wears.

“It was a surreal kind of experience that I won’t soon forget,” he said.

JPD is waiting for the Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage to confirm the man’s identity, then they will attempt to notify any next of kin.

Glory Hole Director Mariya Lovishchuk said the shelter will hold a memorial for the man once he is identified.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

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