HOMER, Alaka (AP) — A jury has determined that a Homer woman missing for nearly two years can be presumed dead and that she died of a homicide.
The jury’s decisions came in late June in a presumptive death hearing for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane. A judge issued a death certificate for Murnane on June 25, the Homer News reported.
Murnane, then 38, was last seen Oct. 17, 2019, on security camera footage leaving her apartment in a supported housing complex. She never arrived for an appointment at a health and wellness clinic.
The following weekend, search and rescue dogs tracked her scent throughout the downtown Homer area until it stopped in what dog handlers call a “car pickup.”
Ground searches in 2019 and 2020 found no trace of Murnane.
Her mother, Sara Berg, filed a presumptive death petition in April, a process under Alaska law to determine that someone has died even though a body has not been located. A person missing for five or more years is automatically presumed dead but family can seek an earlier ruling.
Murnane’s stepfather, Ed Berg, said they sought the ruling to close various accounts.
Sara Berg said the jury’s determination that her daughter died by homicide surprised her but validated her belief about her daughter’s death.
“I know she was murdered. There was never any question in my mind about that,” she said.
“She was picked up by somebody she knew well and then murdered. There was no way she would have gotten in a car with a stranger. Someone she knew well murdered her. I’ve never seen that any other way,” her mother said.
Homer police in a statement said they consider Murnane’s case to be active and under investigation.
“We will not close it,” the statement said. “We are committed to finding Duffy’s remains and the person or persons responsible for her disappearance.”