The Anchorage Police Department announced that the early indications regarding the possible cause of death of a 19-year-old male found in a gravel area alongside the S. Birchwood Road in Chugiak are “non-criminal” in nature, according to information provided by Renee Oistad, APD communications director.
Rumor circulating through coffee shops in Chugiak-Eagle River and on social media accounts owned by local residents is that the body of Zachariah J. Schneider, age 19 of Wasilla, was dumped by unidentified companions after an accidental overdose at a party.
Police cannot confirm any information other than the fact that Schneider’s body was discovered by a passerby and that police arrived on scene at 2:14 p.m. on Tues., May 16.
“I do not have anything further,” Oistand wrote in an email to the ECHO News on Wednesday afternoon. “And while we do not believe this is a criminal death, the case is still pending and will be until the autopsy report is complete. Therefore, we will not be releasing any more information at this time.”
Oistad said the autopsy report – which most often includes toxicology checking for the presence of drugs or alcohol in a body’s system and can provide clues to potential cause of death – will not be available for several weeks.
According to Oistad, police did conduct on-site interviews with people in the general area where the body was discovered.
Schneider’s next-of-kin have been contacted.
His mother – whose identity the ECHO News has decided to not disclose at the time of the writing of this story to protect her privacy while grieving as of Wed., May 17 – did post a video on social media announcing her son’s death.
“I would like everybody to know the dangers of using drugs because my son, Zachariah Schneider, has OD’d and passed away tonight and some punk decided to drop him off on the side of the road in Chugiak,” she said in the recording made Tuesday evening. “I don’t even know what to say. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The ECHO News was on scene at approximately 4:30 p.m. when the then unidentified body was fully covered with a whitish tarp and three Anchorage Police Department officers were on scene guarding the body and the surrounding area until the medical examiner arrived. When the ECHO News checked the scene again at 8:30 p.m., the body had been arrived and police were no longer in the area.