Juneau’s police chief said Tuesday there were “some injuries” on the body of Juneau Mayor Greg Fisk when he was found dead inside his Starr Hill home Monday afternoon, which may explain why investigators could not immediately rule out foul play.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Juneau Police Department Chief Bryce Johnson said he could not say what the injuries were.
“There’s lots of possibilities as to what happened,” Johnson said of their possible cause, adding it could have been from a fall. “There were some injuries, but there were different things that can cause that.”
Usually there would be nothing suspicious about a 70-year-old man dying at home. In Fisk’s case, rumors started almost instantly around the neighborhood and online alleging foul play. JPD warned in a press release Monday night that the rumors were speculative. Johnson said the injuries could have been caused by anything from a fall to an assault.
“We don’t know that there was an assault,” Johnson told the Empire, addressing rumors spreading online. “We’ll have to wait to get the autopsy back, then we’ll know.”
Without a known cause of death — and without evidence suggesting otherwise — the rumors intensified Tuesday morning, gaining attention from national TV networks and talk shows.
JPD spokeswoman Erann Kalwara said she and the chief have received some 35 interview requests from outlets such as ABC News, NBC News, Fox News, Good Morning America, Reuters and the New York Times.
“I’ve never really been exposed to anything like this,” Kalwara said of the response. “He’s a public figure as mayor, and … people are just sort of shocked and surprised. A lot are grieving and coming out with a lot of questions. There’s just unanswered questions right now.”
Fisk’s body is being sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy, which is scheduled for Wednesday morning barring any changes in flight plans, according to Dawnell Smith, a spokeswoman for the office. Preliminary results should be available to Fisk’s family and law enforcement shortly afterward.
Fisk, a fisheries consultant who was just elected as Juneau’s new mayor in October, was found lying on the floor of his Kennedy Street home Monday afternoon. The mayor lived alone, and when he missed several appointments Monday and didn’t return phone calls, his son, Ian Fisk, went to go check on him, police said.
“Ian was standing outside the residence, looking in through a window and could see the Mayor laying in the ‘front room’” of the house, Kalwara told the Empire. The 911 call came through at about 3:30 p.m. The Empire has reached out to the younger Fisk for comment without success.
Police Chief Johnson said Monday that there did not appear to be any signs of a break-in at Fisk’s home.
Johnson said he did not know whether Fisk had any medical issues. A neighbor told the Empire that Fisk had a heart attack about 20 years ago — he said he visited him in the hospital at that time. There was no indication of suicide or drugs, police said.
After processing Fisk’s home Monday evening, JPD detectives returned Tuesday and knocked on his neighbor’s doors, interviewed more family members and photographed the interior of Fisk’s home for police evidence.
In the hours since Fisk’s death was announced, Alaskans across the state have offered their condolences. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mayor Greg Fisk,” Gov. Bill Walker wrote on Twitter. “He will be remembered for his dedicated service to the community of Juneau.”
On Tuesday morning, JPD was still examining Fisk’s home on Kennedy Street for evidence. A JPD officer stood watch over the house throughout Monday night to keep the house secure and make sure no unauthorized person entered.
“We want to go back out there again today and do some follow-up investigation, just make sure we have everything documented so that when we get the autopsy back — whatever it says — we’re prepared to move forward,” Chief Johnson said.