Preying in Anchorage
Updated: Jul 31, 2022
Welcome to Crime Raven, real life stories from law enforcement crimes and issues, crime fighters face. This podcast, crimes researched using publicly available information or personal recollections. Content may be graphic disturbing or violent, and maybe upsetting to some. Listener discretion is advised.
Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
Hello listeners. I wanted to tell you about the narrative you're about to hear, because it's a little different than what we've been doing the past few recordings. For the narrative, I've changed names of victims and at some points I've compiled stories into one experience that represents that of several victims. When we get into the investigation, those are the real names and people. The instances I've included are real, and I chose them because they represent common themes among this group of victims. For the significant events. I can name a specific person who trusted me or another detective with the story.
Trigger warning. This episode discusses the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors.
Stuart and Debbie
Debbie and Stewart were high school sweethearts from the Midwest. Stuart, considered one of the smartest kids in his class, dreamed of getting away. But a year after graduation, he was still living in his parents' basement. He was feeling the pressure to get his life moving. Debbie wanted Stewart and a house with a picket fence, surrounded by family. She worried that Stewart would not be satisfied staying in a small town. One day, there was a quiet knock at the door. As Stewart stepped outside, a flood of words came out of Debbie that sent Stewart's head spinning. She took a test. She's pregnant. She doesn't know what to do. Stuart tried to console her, but did about as well as most 19 year old boys might. His mind flooded with thoughts about his own life, even as he tried to reassure Debbie. They took a walk, and began the most adult conversation they'd ever had.
And Stuart had two realizations. He and Debbie would always be bound together through this child and he needed to start making money. Stuart wanted to provide for his family in a way that a job as a cashier at the Dollar General could not. He decided to do what everyone warned him not to do: trust the recruiter. His mind reached out and grasped the opportunity like a life raft. From thousands of conversations over the last few years, Stuart knew what Debbie wanted. Maybe they could have a family and he could do something interesting.
The recruiter had liked his grades and said that he had great potential in the air force. It would be an adventure. When Stuart mentioned his new family situation, the recruiter gave him a knowing smile. Don't worry. That's exactly what happened to me. And it's the best decision I ever made.
Six weeks had passed in the blink of an eye with everything blurring together. There was a courthouse wedding. He had no time to adjust to married life, just the blizzard of paperwork, questions, and examinations. When he and Debbie had parted, they both worried about what lay ahead. Stuart was halfway through his training when the call came about the baby. He was granted five days to return home. THey named the baby Mary after Debbie's favorite aunt.
Following weeks of additional training Stewart received his first PCS or Permanent Change of Duty station orders. He had requested bases close to home, but was shocked to read that he would be reporting to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.
Alaska! Stuart had visions of polar bears, igloos, mountains, and ice caps. He looked at a map and it was 5,000 miles away. The news was not easy to break to Debbie. She would be a new mother in a foreign land with no family to support her. Stuart became the chief consoler and pep talker every night on the phone. One tangible point he often brought up were the medical benefits that had already paid for Mary's birth. During the early days of their marriage, Stuart and Debbie reassured each other, that all the sacrifices were to provide for Mary.
When the big day came, Stuart and Debbie flew to Anchorage. When the plane descended towards the city, they cleared the ice covered mountain tops. And the view was a wide valley with braided gray tributaries feeding a much larger ocean inlet. Tucked to one side, they saw the city. It was a relief to see clusters of tall buildings, gleaming in the sun. The urban sprawl extended from the water's edge to midway up the mountain side. It was larger and more modern than they envisioned. There were no igloos. And aside from small patches of snow in the mountains about the city, it was clear they wouldn't be living on an ice cap.
The airplane ride was one of many new experiences, but Debbie and Stewart soon found their bearings in a new life. Stuart loved his job and took satisfaction from serving the country while supporting his family. After a few months, Debbie took a part-time job at a store on base. Mary spent a few hours a week at the daycare center, where over time she won the hearts of all the workers and her schoolmates. Like her daddy, she was a sharp one.
The family was comfortable and thriving. A year after arriving in Anchorage, Debbie shared the good news with their growing circle of friends: baby number two was on the way. Stuart was promoted and with the money he was bringing in they could afford a small house in the Russian Jack neighborhood, a couple miles off base. After the second winter Stuart and Debbie realized they liked living in Alaska. They passed what their more tenured friends said was the actual test. That first winter everything's still new. The second is when it gets old. After number two, you know what to expect and how long it'll last. Stewart's more senior coworkers told him, make sure you find something you like to do in the snow and plan in your summers during the darkest winter days.
The terms of Stuart's enlistment passed. He had been promoted several times and took satisfaction from serving the nation. But over six years he saw many of his friends leave and do very well in the oil industry. Stuart was hired by a major oil field services company before the ink was dry on his separation papers. The oil field services gig went well for Stewart. For two weeks a month, the cares of family life were distant. He did feel guilty about leaving Debbie at home to do all the work, but he was winning the bread and work was far from ordinary.
At the beginning of Mary's 12th year, she was doing well in school. She loved outdoor activities and told everyone she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. Her greatest love and annoyance in life was her sister. Debbie sometimes felt that most of her days were spent refereeing disputes, but she laughed on the inside, remembering what it was like with her sister. They love to hate each other, but like her girls and they were inseparable
One night, there was a knock at the door, while Debbie and the girls were in the living room, watching TV. Mary answered. It was a police officer who asked for her mother. Mary yelled, "mom! Cop!" Debbie, almost to the door, shaking her head, smiling and about to apologize for the rudeness, but her humor vanished when she saw the officer's face. Debbie said, "it's okay, go watch TV." She pushed past Mary onto the porch, closing the door behind her. The officer introduced himself and asked Debbie if she was related to Stuart. Her mind was spinning as she whispered "husband."
Ma'am, I regret to inform you... As the officer spoke, the words seemed unreal, but at the same time were etched on Debbie's mind. Stuart died in a plane crash outside of Fairbanks. He and a coworker, a pilot, had been out in his friend's new Cessna when it crashed into a hillside and both were killed instantly. The words took Debbie's breath away. The officer asked if he could help her. Was there anybody else that he should speak with? She simply shook her head and thanked him and went back inside.
The first worst moment of Debbie's life was facing her girls, who were both staring at her. She crumpled onto the floor sobbing. Several long agonizing days, followed. Debbie had Stuart cremated. She didn't want to face anyone. They had a small Memorial service at the church down the street. Their Alaskan friends were the only ones who came. And that was okay with Debbie.
The downward spiral for Debbie was steep. Shock turned to depression, and during that turn, she started to self-medicate. It was only a little booze at first. Then when the alcohol wasn't enough, she found an old bottle of pills in the back of the cabinet. The girls dealing with their own waves of grief, went easy on their mom, but I got old. Sorrow became something more insidious in the onces happy home. Friends and family kept regular contact at first, but the calls and visits dwindled.
Debbie went through the small life insurance payout in a few months. She started looking like she wasn't taking care of herself. The manager at the store on base where Debbie worked part-time started asking questions, so she quit. She lost the house within a year and a half of Stuart's death. After the foreclosure, they moved into a one bedroom apartment in Muldoon, one of the few places Debbie could afford. By the time they moved into that Muldoon apartment, Mary was 13. She had learned that her once gregarious mom wasn't happy or dependable anymore. Her mother had several part-time jobs, mostly at restaurants, but those came and went. Mary noticed a pattern where Debbie would rally and do okay for a few weeks and back into zombie land.
She and Michelle just tried to live their lives around Debbie. In one of the up times, Debbie met and brought home Mike. After a few days, Mike invited himself to move in, crowding the already tight living space. The girls were uncomfortable seeing their mother showing affection to this new guy.
They became increasingly alarmed about Mike's affinity for drugs and alcohol.
The other problem with Mike was that when Debbie was out of a room, he would grab Mary. He acted like he was being playful. Mary knew when he rubbed her breasts or her butt he was doing it on purpose. Once as Debbie lay passed out on the sofa, Mike grabbed Mary and a bear hug as she came out of the bathroom. He laughed and pushed her against the bedroom door, put his hands down the back of her pants, only letting go when Mary cried out.
With the groping incidents becoming more frequent, Mary started spending as much of her time away as possible. She would stay over at friend's houses. And the lady two doors down didn't like Mike and was sympathetic, so Mary and Michelle would go there when things got bad. Mary worried that Mike would try to do something to Michelle. When Mary tried to tell her mom what was going on, Debbie flew into a rage, accusing Mary of always needing to be the center of attention.
Mary on Her Own
Marcy: Despondent, Mary left, and stayed with a series of friends She tried to call home and talk to Michelle, but Mike answered and he demanded know where she was. Mary continued to stay away. She started hanging out with a new group of kids around the downtown bus center. Mary liked the action down there. Something was always happening. She smoked weed for the first time in town square. And the group she was with fancied itself, a Guild of thieves. They dared each other to steal items from nearby shops, mostly clothing and jewelry. They would model their loot for the group at a predestined meeting spot. And the one who stole the most expensive item was the winner. Within a week, Mary and several of her friends were arrested as they gathered on benches behind the bus center. Mary was listed as a runaway, but she couldn't be released to a parent. The officer told her that there was an order to take her to the youth detention center. At McLaughlin Youth Center, Mary was interviewed by a social work. And during that conversation, Mary learned that she couldn't go home because there'd been a complaint filed against her mother and Mike. The social worker asked her several general questions about what it was like at home. Mary didn't want her mother in trouble, so she pretended everything was fine. The questions included several about Mike and how he treated her and Michelle. Mary said she didn't like Mike, but she wouldn't elaborate. Mary asked about her sister, Michelle, and the worker told her that she'd been placed in a temporary foster home. And that Mary would also be placed in a home. Mary had heard horror stories about foster parents from the downtown kids, but was hoping Michelle was better off now that she was away from Mike. Mary had no intention of staying with people she didn't know. So when the social worker dropped her off at a house in the Fairview neighborhood, she waited 10 minutes, ate the sandwich they gave her and walked out the back door.
For the next few weeks, Mary hung around downtown. sometimes stealing sometimes begging off friends. She was more careful now, always on the lookout for police. She slept over at a friend's garage, in a tent in the woods, and at Covenant House, the kid shelter. Mary didn't actually like Covenant House; they asked too many questions. During one of the couch surfing nights at her friend Dawn's apartment. Mary was introduced to a girl named Bambi. Bambi was 20, pretty with dark hair and striking blue eyes. Bambi sat down on the chair next to Mary and they talked for a long time. Mary was flattered that an older girl would be interested in anything she had to say. They talked about Mary's family and how she met Dawn. As Bambi left the house, she gave Mary her phone number, telling Mary to call her if she ever wanted a ride. Mary watched Bambi drive away in a newer looking car. Mary asked Dawn how she knew Bambi. "Oh, she works with my sister", Dawn said. "Does she live around here?" Mary asked. "She knows some rich guy who buys her shit. She's cool. My sister said she can get whatever you want." Mary asked," like beer" Dawn nodded. "Yeah, but also like she got Jenny and me some weed and she gave my sister some other shit."
A few days later, Mary went by Dawn's apartment, but nobody was home. Downtown was dead for a summer afternoon, but Mary saw a couple of her friends. They were bored and wanted to steal some liquor or find something to trade for weed. Mary remembered Bambi and borrowed a phone to call her. "Hello?" Bambi sounded irritated. When Mary identified herself, Bambi's voice softened, "yeah, I remember you. Hey girl, what are you doing?" Mary told Bambi that they were looking for something to do and wanted to know if she could help them. Bambi said," yeah, I can pick you up, but only you. There's no room for anybody else."
When Mary said yes, Bambi told her to be on the corner behind the bus station in 30 minutes. Bambi, repeated that she was only picking up Mary and added she didn't trust anybody else downtown. Mary agreed and hung up. And Mary waited, first standing on the corner and then laying in the grass in the concrete planter near the sidewalk. About an hour and a half later, Mary was ready to give up when a pickup truck pulled onto the street.
At first, Mary didn't recognize the ride because the driver was a black guy she didn't know. The truck bumped up on the curb and Bambi yelled out the window to Mary. Mary jumped off the planter as Bambi got out and they hugged. "Hey girl, this is Al you can sit between us." as she motioned for Mary to get in. Al gave her a head nod and smiled as Mary slid in. Mary noticed Al was older. She gets about 30. They drove around for a couple of hours, passing a travel mug back and forth. Bambi offered Mary a drink. It was fruity with a distinct alcohol bite. Mary looked at Bambi with her eyebrows raised. Bambi, laughed, "rum punch. You like it?" Mary smiled nodded, as she took a bigger drink. The conversation flowed easily after that. They talked about all kinds of things. Al was mostly quiet. Mary noticed Al never laughed when they joked, and Bambi made that into a joke. "Al's pissed because a Spernard crack ho stole his sense of humor." Al only smiled, but the girls laughed until their faces were red.
They stopped at several apartments around town. Bambi told Mary they were picking up and dropping off. Sometimes Bambi went in. Sometimes Al. During one stop at a small place near Mary's old house, Al went to the door. A young guy answered. And a minute later, Al suddenly yelled something, forcing the guy back and disappearing from view. Mary could hear Al yelling inside the building. Then a woman began screaming. Frightened, Mary looked at Bambi who told her not to worry. 30 seconds later, Al came back outside, tucking a watt into his pants pocket as he walked back to the car as if nothing happened. And they drove away.
After a stop in Spenard, Bambi told Mary they were going to a party at a friend, Joe's, house. Did Mary want to come along? Having nowhere else to go? Mary said, yes. She got a little nervous during the drive which was south away from downtown. When they passed Dimond off ramp, the only place she'd been in this direction was the town of Seward two hours away. "How far are we going?" Mary asked. Bambi said, "it's not far. Joe has a mansion on the ocean." 10 more minutes, and they turned off the highway into one of the last neighborhoods before leaving Anchorage. The area had houses on large, lots, mostly separated by tall stands of Birch and spruce. Through the trees behind some of the houses, Mary could see Cook Inlet shimmering in the low evening sun.
Marcy: They pulled into the driveway of a big house. There were a few other cars parked off to one side. Mary surveyed the scene as she got out. It wasn't the mansion she envisioned from TV, but it was nice and had manicured landscaping. Mary thought she had never been inside a place like this. Feeling out of place. Mary asked Bambi, "you're friends with Joe's parents?" Bambi and Al both laughed as Bambi, threw her arm across Mary's shoulder and pulled her towards the door. "This is Joe's crib. This is the Playboy mansion of Anchorage. You can do anything you want here. You just have to keep your mouth shut."
Mary noticed that Al opened the door without knocking, and they went inside. As they walk through the entryway, a thin tall white guy who looked to be in his twenties, appeared from a side room. He greeted Al and Bambi. Bambi asked him who was there and he nodded his head toward the living room, "Vally trash in there. Joe's in the bedroom." To Al he said, "Re-up?" Al ignored him and walked past, down the dark hallway. Bambi told Mary, "you go that way and see who's in there. We'll be out in a minute," and she followed Al down the hallway. The white guy looked at Mary and chuckled to himself, "you here for Joe?" Mary shrugged and walked past him into the living room. There was an older guy sitting on a couch watching TV, a teenage looking girl with long blonde hair, was laying on the couch asleep, her head in the man's lap. The coffee table in front of them was strewn with liquor bottles, beer cans, and a couple of bongs. The man sleepily looked up at Mary and nodded, "hey." Mary barely noticed him. Her attention had been drawn to the back window and the stunning view of the ocean. It looked as if the wide strip of lawn extended from the rear of the house, way out into the ocean. With the mountains across the inlet backlit, the view was stunning. Mary, transfixed, walked through the house to the back glass doors.
After absorbing the view, Mary saw that there were two young women sitting outside on the deck. They noticed Mary at the same time. One of the women startled grabbing an object off the table as if she didn't want Mary to see. After a few seconds of looking at Mary, both women relaxed, waving around outside, and Mary opened the door. The woman who hid the item said, "Hey girl, you scared us" and put the crack pipe back on the table. The other woman laughed. They introduced themselves. Like everybody else she met so far, no one asked her how old she was.
Mary and the women exchanged stories. They were there to see Joe. They called him Millionaire Joe. He always had the best parties. They asked Mary if it was her first time, and she said it was. One said, "this place is awesome. Sometimes fucked up shit happens, but it's worth it. You can have anything you want. You want to hit this?" she motioned to the pipe. Mary said, "not yet. Thanks." Bambi came outside, holding a drink for her. "There you are." Mary notice Bambi was talking much louder than she had been. She looked and sounded like she was vibrating. " Hey, you have to come in and meet Joe. Joe is awesome. This is his place. Isn't it great. Joe's like my second daddy. Come and meet Joe." Bambi pulled Mary out of the chair and through the house talking seemingly without taking a breath. In a large bedroom an old man was sitting in an armchair. The coffee table in front of him had an assortment of drugs. Mary saw various powders pills, pipes, and syringes.
Bambi blurted out, "Joe. This is Mary. Isn't she pretty!" Mary was shocked by the incongruty. Joe reminded her of pictures that she'd seen of her grandfather. He was certainly old enough to be her grandfather. The piles of drugs in front of him were a contradiction that she couldn't wrap her brain around.
Joe, who'd been staring out the window to his right jerked, his head to face Mary. He regarded her with unusually wide eyes as if he was trying to focus. Mary thought ,damn he's high too. Joe smiled broadly after a few seconds. "Yes, she's very pretty. Mary? Is your name, Mary? Like you can marry me?" Bambi and Joe broke into peels of laughter at that joke. Mary given nervous smile. "Mary, do you like my house?" Mary nodded, "It's great." "Good." Joe gave an abrupt nod. " You know, I bought it for friends like you, I bought it so they'd all have a place to come and have a good time. Together." He leaned forward in the chair and padded the side of Mary's thigh. An awkward silence was broken by a ringing phone, which Joe answered. Bambi said, "let's go get you right."
The following two days were a blur for Mary. She smoked cocaine and then anything they gave her. The crack made her feel invincible, the sadness and the weight of her life fell away. She wanted to never feel hopeless again. And that was the promise that the drugs whispered as they washed over her.
Mary remembered people coming and going from the house. She remembered dancing barefoot on the backyard grass with a group of people she didn't know. She didn't care. She had flashes of being on the grass with the skinny white guy. They were kissing and he was caressing her breasts. She didn't care. She passed out.
When Mary came to her brain was a fog. She was on her back and a bed in a dimly lit room. She was aware of pressure, realizing it was a hand between her legs pressing inside of her. Mary realized a man was sitting next to her. His weight pinning her down on one side. She tried to focus. As the man leaned closer, she saw it was Joe. Mary was able to weakly say, "Joe, no". Joe smiled broadly, "sheesh. Call me daddy." Mary tried to struggle, but the drugs just washed her back into the abyss.
Mary woke up to Bambi shaking her. She was lying in the sunlight on one of the living room couches. "We have to go." "Huh?" "We have to go use the bathroom if you need to." Mary rolled off the couch groaning as she stood. She was sore all over, but mainly her head hurt. A few minutes later, Mary and Bambi were outside in the driveway. The cars that were there when she arrived were gone. Al pulled up in an old car. Bambi told Mary to sit in front and they both got in. Bambi, told Mary that she had a place for her to stay in Spenard. She said there were rules that Mary had to follow to stay there and she couldn't tell anybody about Joe's place.
They pulled into the parking lot of a small dilapidated condo complex. Bambi showed Mary inside and upstairs to one of the rooms, where a young woman was asleep in one of four twin beds, two on each side of the room. Each bed had a clear plastic box underneath of it. Bambi pointed to the only bed with an empty tote. "You sleep there." Mary asked, "is this a shelter?" Bambi smiled, "kind of. Stay here. Al and some guys will come by and take care of you. Most of the girls here are cool but some can be bitches. Call me if you have any problems." They hugged and Bambi went downstairs. Mary noticed Al was standing outside in the hallway. He stepped into the room and handed her a baggie with pills. He leaned close to her his face serious, "do what she said. Stick around here and don't say shit about Joe's place. Understand?" Mary shrank back, but nodded.
Police investigations can start in several different ways. The most common way is that citizens call the police to report a crime. This can be a crime in progress or one that's happened at some point in the past. Another way that an investigation can begin is when attentive police officers or detectives gather information piece by piece. Sometimes over weeks or months, indicating something illegal is going on. That is how the Joseph Boehm investigation began.
Before 2003 Boehm, a 58 year old resident of Anchorage was best known as the owner of the Alaska Industrial Hardware, or AIH, a prominent equipment company founded in 1959.
The description from AIH's corporate website reads "from our humble beginnings in a Quonset hut on the corner of Seward highway and Fireweed lane in Anchorage, we have grown into an Alaskan brand, recognized by generations of trades people and do it yourselfers. We began with a simple plan buy surplus nuts and bolts, repackage them and sell them. As Alaska has grown, so have the needs. And AIH has risen to the challenge. We expanded our original plan to offer nuts and bolts and we haven't stopped."
Boehm got rich with AIH because the company was a major supplier of tools for constructing the Alaska oil pipeline. The company is very well known in the region because of its wide selection of tools and it's decades, long investment in local philanthropy, sponsoring teams, clubs, and neighborhood improvement across Anchorage and throughout Alaska.
Before 2003, ominous rumors swirled that despite Boehms upstanding reputation, he was a man with some very illegal proclivities. Rumors can go unaddressed by a police department because there's never a lack of cases drawing attention. The information that stimulates a response must be specific and compelling enough to prioritize over other pressing cases. Sometime in 2002 or 2003 Boehm's problems reached critical mass and broke through the static. A detective was investigating the sexual assault of a teenage girl. The assault did not involve Boehm, but what the detective was told was later described by Tatabuline Brandt, a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News, Boehm's house had, "a reputation among some teenagers and adults as a crack house, a place filled with pornography, where runaway teenage girls from Anchorage and the valley could go for drugs and a place to stay, if they were willing to have sex with Boehm and other people."
Boehm's residence was a 4,000 square foot, five bedroom house in the exclusive ocean view area of Anchorage. The house had a sauna room and a jacuzzi built into the deck, right on the banks of Cook Inlet. This neighborhood is usually quiet, but a check of police calls to the house, show that in May of 2003 officers responded to a 911 call from a woman claiming that a man at Boehm's house was threatening to hurt her. When the police arrived, they found a man hiding in one of the bathrooms, holding a screwdriver, like a shiv. The officers indicated that both people were high on drugs.
Boehm's, criminal history revealed several DWI charges. But more concerning was a rape conviction from 1965. The victim in that case was 15 years old. During another sexual assault investigation, also not directly involving Boehm, a mother of two teenage girls was interviewed. The woman said that Boehm offered her money to buy her daughters. She refused and nothing else came of it.
Despite compelling information, investigators had to be satisfied with tracking down witnesses and gathering information until an incident that broke the case open. Anchorage police received a complaint from the Marriott Hotel that some guests were being belligerent and refusing to leave. When police responded, Boehm and two of his companions were arrested for drugs. Boehm had 15 grams of crack on him, $3,000 cash, and drug paraphernalia. Boehm was released on bail with a third-party custodian. That's someone the court considers responsible, that can keep the accused from re-offending while they await trial.
A few days later on December 22nd, 2003, detectives served a search warrant at Boehm's house. They found Boehm in the residence with six adults. The search turned up, crack cocaine, extensive drug paraphernalia, and a large collection of amateur pornography. The raid led to Boehm's arrest on federal drug charges.
During the bail review, detectives gave the court a hint at what was coming. Anchorage Police Detective Kevin Vandergriff said he had interviewed numerous juvenile witnesses who had been to Boehm's home. The detective told the judge, "every individual that I spoke with, regardless of whether they lived in Anchorage or the Mat-Su valley, told me that Mr. Boehm's home was a known crack house. And if you're a runaway kid, all you had to do was go there and provide Mr. Boehm with sex. He would provide you with all the cocaine that you wanted as well as money." Assistant US Attorney, Frank Russo, told the judge that two 14 year old girls had been interviewed, who said they had been given cocaine in exchange for having sex with Boehm.
The detectives were able to identify numerous associates who were involved in the illegal activity with Boehm, but three people stood out as primary players, Allen "Foul Al" Bolling, Leslie Williams, and Bambi Tyree. Foul Al and Williams were known to the Anchorage Police as low-level drug dealers and street hustlers. They would arrange anything as long as they got paid. In the crimes related to Boehm, they were identified as the ones who deliver drugs. They also facilitated movement of victims and others at Boehm's behest. The kind of facilitation that these two henchmen helped with was mentioned by Assistant US Attorney Frank Russo in court. He said, "a mother of one of these girls was held inside the apartment, kept on drugs while they had sex with the daughter."
The last, and certainly not least, Boehm associate was Bambi Tyree, a 22 year old from the Mat-Su valley, a 30 minute drive north of Anchorage. She was well known to police and despite her young age, her involvement in the Anchorage prostitution and drug scene went back several years. As the investigation progressed, it became clear that Tyree was a central player. Focusing on Tyree, investigators learned more about her past. Tyree ran away from home at 11 years old, she'd been in and out of McLaughlin Youth Center until she was old enough to start going to adult jail. When Tyree was 15, she was arrested with her 18 year old sister at the Anchorage airport. They had just come from California and were carrying 15 pounds of cocaine strapped to their bodies. During an extensive interview process with numerous witnesses, it was learned that Tyree had been sexually involved with Boehm and other very wealthy men since she was 13, possibly younger. As time went on, Tyree's role changed from victim to facilitator. In the 2003 investigations, she was named by the victims as the person who recruited girls for Boehm.
The Boehm investigation progressed and ultimately led to multi count federal felony indictments on Boehm, Foul Al, Williams and Tyree. Under the weight of the charges and the evidence, facing years in federal prison, Tyree decided to cooperate and agree to testify against her co-conspirators. Bambi said that she became involved with Boehm, smoked crack with him and had sex with him by the time she was 14. Bambi also admitted that over the years, she recruited numerous underage girls to have sex with Boehm. She supplied the girls. Foul Al and William's job was to deliver the drugs. The whole setup was to satisfy Boehm's appetites and he was willing to pay for it all. Detectives were able to identify at least a dozen underage victims.
With the weight of those interviews and Tyree's cooperation, all the defendants entered guilty pleas. Boehm tried to play the victim, saying that he was a sickly old man with a cocaine addiction. He said that everything else was the work of his streetwise co-defendants who took advantage of him and his wealth. The judge didn't buy it. In a Department of Justice press release on November 22nd, 2004, " Anchorage businessman, Joseph F Boehm, 60 pled guilty today to conspiring, to provide crack cocaine to underage Anchorage and Mat-Su teenagers in exchange for sexual favors. Boehm pled guilty to the top charge in the indictment, conspiring to distribute over 50 grams of crack cocaine to persons under 21 years of age. Boehm also admitted to conspiring to commit crimes of sex trafficking of children. Under the terms of the agreement, Boehm maybe sentenced to more than 11 years in jail. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, there is no parole. Boehm also agreed to forfeit his Anchorage home, where many of the activities alleged in the indictment took place. The agreement also requires that Boehm pay restitution in the amount of $1.2 million into a trust fund for the benefit of the victims of his criminal conduct. The trust fund will allow victims to be compensated for expenses related to drug treatment, counseling and related expenses incurred as a result of their victimization at the hands of Boehm and his co-defendants. In addition, the trust fund can be used to pay for education and professional training expenses for the victims, which would not have been otherwise available under federal statutes if Boehm had been convicted after a trial."
One of the people who testified at Boehm's sentencing was Kathy Prindle. She was 15 in 1965 when Boehm raped her. Boehm was given 13 years. He died in prison after serving almost his entire sentence. Foul Al and Williams, where each sentence to more than a decade in federal prison. For her crimes, Tyree was ordered to serve three years. The judge said the reason for the relative short sentence was the recognition that she was a victim at a very young age before becoming a perpetrator. He also discounted time because of her significant assistance to the prosecution.
One might think upon hearing the sentences that this case is completely over, but it has a lengthy epilogue.
Marcy: First epilogue.
One of Tyree's wealthy elderly associates was a man named Bill Allen. Allen, born in 1937, was the CEO of VECO, one of the largest Alaskan oil field service companies. He was filthy rich and corrupt. Around the time of the Boehm case, Allen was also being investigated by Anchorage Police Department for alleged sexual abuse of minors, one being Tyree. There is some evidence that Allen and Boehm were friends. Several witnesses gave interviews confirming that Allen was Tyree's boyfriend, dating back to her mid teenage years. Allen gave Tyree and her family property of significant value. The most traceable being several automobiles. Allen was never charged for the alleged crimes involving children.
The US Attorney's Office asked that the sexual abuse case be shelved, because Allen, under pressure, had agreed to work as an informant in a high level corruption scandal that led to charges being filed against several Alaskan legislators and U S Senator, Ted Stevens. Stevens lost his Senate seat because of the ensuing trial and scandal. Allen, because of his work as an informant, only served three years in prison.
The US Attorney's Office would not confirm that they use the Tyree investigation as leverage to get Allen to cooperate in their probe, but they have steadfastly refused to allow the sexual abuse investigation to be charged, even under extreme political pressure. At least one attorney for a politician targeted by the corruption prosecutors commented that Allen flipped very quickly and he thinks it's because they used Tyree as leverage.
Marcy: Second epilogue.
Don Webster is a pimp whose street name is Jerry Star. He was an associate of Boehm, but not charged with the group in 2004. Jerry Star operated in the same space as Williams and Foul Al. He was a drug dealer and he ran prostitutes, both on the street and through several escort services. In fact, Tyree was associated with at least one of Jerry Star's call-out businesses.
In 2003, around the same time as the net started closing on Boehm and Allen, the remains of two women washed up on the Cook Inlet mudflats. The headless, legless bodies were found several months and about seven miles apart. And took a very long time to identify, ultimately through a tattoo and DNA. 22 year old Deserae Michelle Lekanof was found by kids playing on rocks at beluga point on June 18th, 2003. 32 year old Michelle Roth was found September 6th, 2003, by duck hunters on the edge of Cook Inlet, just off the Oceanview neighborhood and a little over a mile from Beohm's house. Both women worked for Jerry Star.
When Boehm's house was raided in December 2003, and he was arrested on a federal drug charges, Boehm was taken into police headquarters for processing. After he was informed of the specific charges, and before he spoke to his lawyer, he told an officer that he had information about the bodies found in the Inlet. After he called his attorney, he refused to ever say another word about it. In Anchorage, these are commonly referred to as the "Torso Murders". They remain unsolved.
Marcy: I have Mark here with us, and we are going to discuss this case a little further. Why did you decide to profile this case?
Mark: Well, first it's an example of a detective built case. I'll discuss the specifics about that in a minute, but there's a difference between what is possible with patrol case and one developed by detectives. And this one is a great example. Second, is that this case immediately proceeded my time as a vice detective. In fact, I believe APDs interest in the federal human trafficking grant that they received was stimulated by what was learned in this case. It certainly had a role in the formation of the APD vice unit of which I'm an original member, or in the Marines, what they call a plank-holder. Third. I want people to be more aware of this problem. You hear human trafficking a lot on the news, but a lot of people don't really know what it means. This case is unique in some respects, namely street-level players attached to fabulously wealthy patrons. What is not unique about this case? And what happens across the United States is human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation of young, poor people. Mostly females.
Marcy: Mary is a compilation of girls' stories that represent many of Boehm's, victims, and girls in similar situations. Where did you hear these stories?
Mark: When I thought about how to write this, what I didn't want was just a simple list of crimes that women told about their victimization. There's a specific girl who is the model for Mary, that I have in mind. Her experiences are consistent and representative of most of the girls and women who gave us stories about this type of crime.
Marcy: So you heard these stories while you were a vice detective?
Mark: Yes, but not only in vice. I work cases involving sex workers while on patrol. If you listen to episode one, Katie was a woman who, was a commercial sex worker who showed me where Della Brown's body was. These women are very much at risk. And as the Sergeant of the sexual assault unit, I read a lot of interviews and contacts we had with them. My affiliation with the vice unit and crimes against children exposed me to some of the exploitation of minors that was happening in Anchorage.
Marcy: I think people sometimes believe that human trafficking is like the movie Taken where unsuspecting girls are kidnapped by thugs. In Mary's case, someone who seemed pretty harmless befriended her, and it was much more insidious. Which is the more common way to get trafficked?
Mark: Yeah. One of the great things about being in the vice unit and with the human trafficking grant is they send the detectives who are picked to a series of essential trainings about the problem. I went to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for training, which was just outside of Washington DC. Great training, and they are a great resource. I went to conferences at Northwestern University and, national training in Las Vegas and the VAWA conference in Orlando. When I was done with those, I had a completely different and new appreciation for the scope and seriousness of this crime.
So to answer your question, I've never heard of a girl or a woman living in normal middle-class life who was kidnapped out of the blue, like off the street and enforced into a life of sex slavery. Now, let me qualify that I'm talking about in the U S. I'll talk about what I learned about Chinese victims in the next podcast.
The story wrote about Mary was the pattern for the majority of trafficking victims and actually sex workers. You take a person who's vulnerable without means of supporting themselves. They're taken advantage of by people who exploited them for personal gain, whether that be gain for their own personal sex or selling sex.
Like in Mary's case, the vulnerability is usually a family tragedy or poverty or domestic abuse. There's no story where a 13 year old girl living a normal happy, suburban existence wakes up and says, you know, I'm going to go have sex with some strange guy for money. And then I'm going to give that money to some other guy.
The reality is young woman in a desperate situation flails around until someone like Bambi or Jerry Star throws them a life ring. The Jerry Stars the world, see the vulnerability and say, "don't worry, I'll take care of you. We can be a family. I have a plan. You just have to do what I ask."
Marcy: Why did you include Mary's family story?
Mark: The things I included, I thought were important to allow listeners to understand the crime. Every victim has a family story and, not all of the stories begin, with life being horrible. In this case. the beginning of that family story is very common to many, many Alaskans, that family got there, through the military. The events and locations, in Anchorage follow the facts of the Boehm case.
I was uncomfortable writing the sexual assault. I can tell you that the description came from my experience with the interviews of sexual assault victims. I included it for the same reason I included some of the other horrible details. I think it helps people understand how bad this crime is.
Marcy: You said it's a good example of a detective built investigation.
Mark: My nightshift Sergeant used to compare patrol the detectives in this way. Patrol is like being served a hot sumptuous meal. It's exciting. It's fresh. It's delicious. He said detectives like getting the same meal after it sat outside for a couple of days. It's cold, unappetizing and depressing. I don't wanna take anything from patrol. It's the backbone of every police department. And it's often exciting and interesting, but I like this analogy more. Patrol work is often a band-aid. You apply a temporary fix you restore order and go onto the next call. And there's always a stack of calls.
Detectives is like corrective surgery. It can be tedious, but you have a shot at a longer term fix. And sometimes a cure. The start of the Boehm case was kind of classic. A detective heard a story that pinged the radar. Juvenile girls being supplied cocaine in exchange for sex.
They started developing information about that. Pulling incident reports, Intel reports, maybe Crimestoppers tips. These are the kinds of things most patrol officers don't have time to do. And from that information, a clearer picture emerges. And in this case it was something unusual is happening at Boehm's house.
Marcy: What can you do when you know crime is a foot?
Mark: You interview anybody who might give you additional information like they did in this case. And then you wait for the right time to act. In a unit like my crime suppression unit, you might call the neighbors and see what they have to say. You know, Oceanview's a nice area. They can't be thrilled there's a crack house next door. Sometimes when things like this are going on, the residents or business owners are overjoyed that you, the police department, might do something and they'll offer you assistance. You know, sometimes they'll say, come sit in my driveway, you can see what's going on or come in my house you can sit and do surveillance from this window. I want to be clear that the Boehm investigation wasn't a priority because Boehm was a prominent figure, living in a nice neighborhood. It was because of the nature of his crimes, the allegations of child involvement made this an absolute priority.
Marcy: And the kickoff for action in this case was the Marriott incident?
Mark: Yeah. The funny thing about the Marriott incident is usually hotels go way out of their way to avoid getting a guest in trouble. I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but I've seen hotel security try to smooth things over that definitely should have been reported much earlier. From this, I get that Boehm and his friends must really have been obnoxious. By the time the Marriott incident happened, the most important thing is the detectives had already done enough of the background work to know what they had and know how significant this case could potentially be and knew when, when they got leverage what action that would take.
Marcy: What happened then?
Mark: They arrested Boehm and Boehm was released on third-party custodian. I don't know who that custodian was, but for a guy like Boehm, a third-party is bullshit.
Mark: Third-party custodian or people who say to the court, I can keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't get into any more trouble as we await trial. That might work if you're a parent or a family member of a younger offender, but it's a joke in a situation like this. Nobody's going to tell Boehm what to do. The beauty is that knowing the system, the detectives waited, for Boehm to reset, gave him a few days, to go back to his usual routine and then hit his house. And he had more cocaine. He had prostitutes. He had a large collection of homemade pornography, there, when they hit it. The pornography in this case, I know they looked at it to see if it was child pornography.
And I don't think that they found any, or we're able to identify any, but it was important because that's what some of the witnesses had said was in the house. For the raid on the house, the case detective, moved the charges in search warrant to the federal side.
Marcy: What was the significance of the federal side?
Mark: At the time this occurred, Alaska didn't have state human trafficking laws that adequately addressed the seriousness of the crime. Alaska had solid drug statutes, but on the federal side, both crimes which are related in this case could be charged. It was at the bail hearing on federal drug charges that some of the details of the human trafficking were given. Boehm was denied bail and he was never free again.
Marcy: It was almost 40 years between Boehm's 1965 conviction for raping a 15 year old and the 2004 case. Do you think he was getting away with the same behavior the whole time?
Mark: Yeah, I think it's likely these crimes ramped up over time. I think Boehm had an appetite for cocaine and sex and he liked juveniles when he could get them. This can be a difficult crime for police to detect because it can go on for a long time before a word leaks out. The victims don't trust police generally. They often have a negative experience with the system. When your daddy beat up your mommy and he went to jail and she went to the hospital and you went to foster care, well to a nine-year-old child, that seemed like the bad guy was the cop. And human trafficking victims are trained not to trust the police, to only trust the pimp. It's like a domestic violence relationship in a lot of ways. The pimp sells a dream of domestic bliss, but the sacrifice is all one sided. He uses drugs as a carrot and violence as a stick to motivate and control the victim.
Anchorage had a very organized and active escort and massage parlor industry dating back to before the pipeline days. Many of the connections made in the Boehm case were from this system. It's easy to believe boehm started by using prostitutes. They offered him party favors, which is street slang for drugs and with his cash, there was a mutual attraction there. In this crime, the suspects, know it's very risky, particularly when you're talking about juveniles. So they're careful. I mentioned Jerry Star and his call-out escort services. They would never have sent out a juvenile for those because it's too easy to trace back to the owner. Young girls are specially handled for select customers. And my guess is in this case, by the time it made it to us, it had been going on for a long while, and there was some reckless disregard for the risk.
Marcy: Is Bambi Tyree a victim?
Mark: Yes and no. I mean, she may have been in this life since she was 11. Certainly by 13 or 14, she was smoking crack and having sex with Boehm. That's horrifying.
I left out a lot of Bambi Tyree's known history. There's a lot of information that came out in the civil cases. She was portrayed by Boehm and his private investigators as preying on older men. But I think at worst she was an opportunist, and she was doing what she could, particularly at 12, 13, 14. She had no options.
But when she started recruiting and profiting, that made her a criminal. Working in this world, nothing's black and white; everything's shades of gray.
One thing I know is Boehm is not a victim. Although he tried to play one. A lot of people in my profession have nothing good to say about defense attornies. I don't feel that way. I think a good defense attorney can keep the system honest, providing a check on overzealous police and prosecutors. But the defense attorney for Boehm is different. You know, the joke about the difference between a lawyer and a catfish. When does a scum sucking bottom dweller, and one is a fish. Well, that shoe fits here. That guy doesn't let shame affect his game. He was more than a little over the top, claiming the police violated his client's rights, claiming his client was the real victim and taken advantage by all the predators on the street all while knowing what his client had done and probably worse.
The reality is that Boehm was in charge. It was his money that brought in these street predators like ants to a picnic. In the narrative. I wrote the call me daddy line from what one of the victims said. She was sold to Boehm for crack when she was 15 and Boehm wanted her to pretend to be even younger
Marcy: Who owns Boehm's company now?
Mark: One of the good thing is Boehm's fingerprints on Alaskan history has largely been expunged. On the AIH website there's no mention of Boehm at all. Since Alaska native women are disproportionally represented amongst sex trafficking victims, I think this entry on the corporate website is particularly sweet. It reads on July 31st, 2015 Bering Straits Native Corporation purchased AIH, ensuring the company would remain an Alaskan company and brand for generations to come. It's owned by nearly 8,000 Alaska Native shareholders,
Marcy: The Allen investigation and the criminal trial of state legislators and the U S Senator is amazing.
Mark: And I chose to leave a whole bunch of that case out of this story. The politicians' convictions were later overturned because the feds failed to disclose all the Bambi Terri information to the defense attorneys. I read parts of the official oversight review. What seems clear to me is that the politicians were factually guilty. The defense was successful because they were not given the Tyree information that would allow them to impeach Allen as the cooperating witness. In the oversight review what Tyree did or didn't say to determined the fates of prominent politicians, FBI agents, and prosecutors. It's crazy.
Marcy: What comes to mind when looking at this ever expanding spider web of money and power in this case is the Jeffrey Epstein, Ghieslane Maxwell case. What do you think about that?
Mark: The details of both Boehm and Allen cases have similarities to Epstein. It's because the dynamics are the same. You have very wealthy guys who want to have sex with juveniles. They can't be going out into public, hitting on vulnerable girls. That'd be creepy. They get a young woman to do the job. Pay her what she wants, and that creates a layer of insulation and deniability. Like in Epstein, this system can go on for a long time with that detection because everybody knows they can get into significant legal trouble and there's money being spread around to keep people quiet. I've been trying to stay away from many of the details of the Allen case, but I'll give you this Teyree displaced a girl who was Allen's main girlfriend. I think maybe the girl got too old for him. That girl tried to blackmail Allen about his new under-age relationship. Allen told this to the FBI investigator. And this was part of what wasn't sent, what was kept quiet, kept from the defense in the politician cases. It's an example of how word of this crime can leak out. Also, as far as people keeping quiet, Tyree, and her family had been receiving gifts from Allen for years. They got cars, money, her dad got a job. Do you think they were eager to talk about Allen? No! They liked their sugar? Daddy.
Marcy: What are your theories about the torso murders?
Mark: I'll talk more about the torso murders in the next episode. I don't have answers, but I do have an opinion. I spent a significant amount of time as a vice detective, learning about the dynamics of the worlds these victims live in. And I worked at Jerry Star case. This review for this podcast of what happened with Bohme makes my opinions about the torso murders stronger. I'd forgotten a lot of the details. If you listen to episode, I think it's four, the Martin case. I criticized the police investigation for not carefully executing the search warrant strategy to correspond with a shot at interrogating Martin. Boehm is a good example of why you have to do that. Boehm was a rich guy with a lawyer and he still lets some information leak in the pressure of the moment. Boehm knew he was going to prison. So he threw out a lifeline that he thought he could bargain with. What Boehm said about having information about the torsos was all we ever got. You know, his lawyer obviously determined that the information he had would not help him.
And what does that tell you?
Mark: if you have a question about police procedure, that you want me to talk about, or I have an interesting case you'd like me to cover. Please email me.
Marcy: Thank you for listening to us. If you haven't already please subscribe. So you don't miss an episode and recommend us to your friends. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our website at crime raven.com. Crime Raven with Mark Rein and Marcy Rein is also produced by us and Ethan Rein and is a 3 little birds LLC production.