Yup’ik woman raised in Bethel found dead near Anchorage

A photo illustration of Jerilyn Nicholson shared by friends and family on social media to mourn her death. (Facebook)

The body of a 27-year-old Yup’ik woman was found over the weekend near Anchorage.

Jerilyn Nicholson had last been seen on April 24. The Anchorage Police Department said her body was found Saturday at the base of a cliff near Eklutna Lake Road, a semi-rural area at the northern edge of Anchorage’s municipal boundary.

Police said a man was arrested in Anchorage Tuesday evening in connection with Nicholson’s death.

Officers who responded to a 911 call about the body “made observations at the scene that … warranted a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the death,” according to an APD statement.

Eddie Thomas Jr., 36, now faces multiple charges including tampering with physical evidence, misconduct involving a corpse and violating conditions of release, police said.

Nicholson grew up in Bethel and Dillingham before moving to Anchorage, according to her cousin Kelsey Ciugun Wallace. Wallace is an Indigenous activist who has organized events and policy change related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two Spirit Relatives. May 5 marks the National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Nicholson’s father, William Nicholson, said their large family had come together to console each other.

“We’re dealing with this as a family,” he said. “She was a wonderful, wonderful angel, and we’re grieving her loss.”

Police said a medical examiner would determine the cause of Nicholson’s death.

According to the earlier missing person report, Nicholson was last seen in Eagle River on April 24, a week before her body was found, and last heard from via text message on April 25.

Police ask that anyone with information about Nicholson’s death, including any video, call dispatchers at 311.

Nicholson’s memorial service will be held at the Evergreen Memorial Chapel in Anchorage on Saturday at noon.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more details about Jerilyn Nicholson’s family and memorial service. The headline has been changed.

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