The mother of the 19-year-old whose body was found discarded along the South Birchwood Loop said she does not agree with police that her son’s death is “non-criminal,” as the Anchorage Police Department is currently characterizing the circumstances being investigated that led to the end of his life.
However, in her contact with the ECHO News via phone Wed, evening, May 17, Alaina Rochelle of Anchorage said she is not criticizing the investigative process used by police. Instead, she remains certain that as the details of her son’s death are revealed, a more accurate portrait of the events will be painted.
The body of Rochelle’s son, Zachariah J. Schneider, was found Tuesday afternoon, May 16, discarded in a graveled area located off the South Birchwood Loop Road. When the ECHO News arrived on scene around 4:30 p.m. that day, the then-unidentified body was covered in a whitish-colored tarp that was clearly visible from the roadside.
“He was a really great kid. He was very smart,” Rochelle said fighting back understandable tears. “But he also was a very broken kid.”
According to Rochelle, Schneider had recently returned to Alaska after living with other family members in the Lower 48.
Rochelle had flown him back from Washington State and she and Schneider were living together in her Anchorage apartment, she said.
He had a job at a sushi restaurant. Plans to attend college pursuing a two-year nursing career were being made.
But things went awry last Sat., May 13. She caught him stealing money from her at the apartment and she asked him to leave the residence – temporarily – and find another place to stay for a few days while the two worked through the incident.
“I told him we needed to set some boundaries,” Rochelle said. “I told him he needed to go somewhere else for a couple of days and we could work this out.”
Little did she know that “somewhere else” would be an unidentified home in Eagle River where Rochelle said she was told that “partying” went on and that drinks were being mixed with methadone.
Police are still investigating the case and the events leading up to the discovery of Schneider’s body, according to Renee Oistad, the APD communications director.
But Rochelle asserts she has been told by sources other than the APD that her son was found unresponsive and that his “friends” – a word used rather loosely, in her opinion – loaded his body into a vehicle and dumped him at the graveled area adjacent to the South Birchwood Loop Road.
She does not have names – she did not know the identities of all the persons her son was with from the time he left her Anchorage apartment on Saturday until his body was discovered on Tuesday afternoon.
What she does know is this: She asserts that whoever it was that first discovered her son in an unresponsive state should be held accountable for not contacting medical help or the police.
“Somebody has to be held accountable for this if what I am being told is the truth,” Rochelle said. “How can it not be criminal to not call for medical help when you find someone like that? How can it not be criminal to just dump somebody off like this?”
She wants answers.
She is a mother in the depth of grief. She had just gotten her son back.
His untimely death certainly has added to her challenges of being unemployed and of having undergone back surgery Tuesday morning. She was told of his death shortly after recovering from anesthesia.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed right now,” Rochelle said. “Here I am trying to recover from a major surgery and I have no idea how to go about dealing with a funeral. I have never lost anyone close to me before this.”
For now, police are reserving any further comment regarding the ongoing investigation of Schneider’s death until the toxicology report comes back, Oistad said.
Editor’s Note: The ECHO News is highly interested in the circumstances surrounding this death. If you wish to speak to us off the record regarding possible drug activity in our community, please contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-7906.