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Wednesday, November 14, 2018
HomeAlaska NewsShould her rapist-murderer go free? Tell the parole board

Should her rapist-murderer go free? Tell the parole board

On Dec. 10, 1972, Jody Stambaugh was strangled and raped in her University of Alaska Fairbanks dorm room, where she had been sleeping. The attacked occurred just before 7 am on a Sunday.

The killer, Allen Walunga, had a history of sexual attacks, and had gained secret entrance into her room, where he watched her sleep for 10-30 minutes before destroying her life and those of the many who loved her.

Jody’s roommate, an Alaskan woman living in Southcentral (who must remain anonymous because she fears the murderer to this day), was also injured, after she entered the tiny dorm room and surprised Walunga, who lunged at her and began choking her.

Hawkins

The roommate’s screams brought resident assistant Cindy Hutchins running. The assailant fought her off and then ran. Another resident assistant, Michael Hoge, called the State Troopers to Moore Hall.

Walunga was located in his second-floor room, covered in scratches from the women who attempted to stop his attacks. Meanwhile, up on the 7th floor, medics began providing CPR to Jody, until they determined she was, in fact, dead. Her parents, well-known 6th Street Juneau residents Wayne and Barbara Stambaugh, now deceased, were flown to Fairbanks to take their daughter’s battered body home, where she is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Judge Gerald Van Hoomissen would later say that this was “probably the most vicious crime that I have had contact with.”

In June, 1973, Walunga was found guilty of rape, murder in the first degree and assault, and attempted murder.

Judge Van Hoomissen found that Walunga “was an extremely dangerous offender who presented a clear and present danger of killing another person if ever released from prison.”

Jody had been all of 18, a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School who was musically and artistically inclined and who had been an exchange student in Norway. She was well-liked by her classmates in Juneau, and she and her brothers loved to ski at the rope tow on Douglas Island’s Dan Moller trail. She was studying home economics.

Her brothers, Gary and Irl, have spent the past 46 years vigilant in their quest to prevent the State of Alaska from granting the repeated pleas by Walunga that he be released. This honors what their parents asked them to do. The Stambaughs had sued the university for allowing a known sexual predator to be placed in a co-ed dorm, but the court ruled against them.

In 1980, he challenged his conviction, saying he had been incapable of effectively waiving his constitutional right to a jury trial on that count because of mental illness, and that the Superior Court erred in failing to inquire into Walunga’s capacity at the time it accepted his written waiver of jury trial, which he had provided with counsel.

As soon as he could, Walunga applied for numerous others hearings and parole, starting in 1987. He wanted his sentence commuted in 1989. He wanted a parole hearing in 1991, then withdrew it after testing the waters. He applied for parole in 1992, then asked for a parole hearing in 1997, and again in 2008.

HE’S BACK AND HE WANTS OUT

In the summer of 2018, Walunga is asking again for parole, and the public has a chance to weigh in with the Alaska Parole Board.

Jody’s brother, Irl Stambaugh, already has written to the Alaska Parole Board and asked them to decline the murderer’s request for freedom. But so many people who were in Alaska during the murder and subsequent trial are gone. Will anyone remember?

This Alaskan is not gone, however. This Alaskan remembers.

Jody’s was the first funeral I ever attended. I was barely out of high school myself; Jody was a classmate of mine, and her brother Gary and I sang in high school choir and the Northern Lights Presbyterian Church choir.

A third-generation Alaskan, raised in Ketchikan and Juneau, Jody was kind, calm, and considerate of others. She would likely be a grandmother today, if not for a savage predator who should never have been allowed access to the dorms at the University of Fairbanks.

WALUNGA HAD A HISTORY OF PREDATION

Allen Walunga was described in the 1970s as an antisocial person. From a well-known family in the St. Lawrence Island village of Gambell, he reportedly made people ill at ease.

Later, he was determined to be possibly mentally ill, possibly possessed by demons, possibly schizophrenic, and possibly sociopathic.

Walunga was already a known sexual predator and had already sexually assaulted several underage girls. Later, he admitted assaulting young boys, as well.

His family shipped him off to Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, where he took a gasoline-soaked rag and held it to the mouth and nose of a female student until she passed out. He thought he had killed her.

After that incident, his family moved him to Fairbanks, where he continued in high school.

There, he was charged with pedophilia and child molestation, and he was given probation. His juvenile records were sealed, however, and he enrolled at the University of Alaska, where he was housed on the second floor of Moore Hall.

Jody lived on the seventh floor. Jody’s brother Gary was also attending the university; the two were close. Gary later became a fireman/EMT. Her older brother Irl was a police officer in Anchorage when his sister was murdered.

Moore Hall is the building on the left.

Then came the horrific attack that made headlines across the state: A beautiful UA coed was strangled and raped in her sleep on a Sunday morning.

The trial came and went and a judge imposed a life sentence on the murder with a concurrent 15 years for the assault on the roommate, with intent to kill count.

“At that time our family felt that justice had been done and Walunga would remain in jail for the remainder of his life. We continued with our lives and through time minimized our grief. Our father had a serious heart attack that I will always partially attribute to the grief and sorrow he lived with after our sister’s death,” the victim’s family wrote several years ago.

“Our father and mother have passed away, and our children have grown but we continue to attend hearings. As we promised our mother, we will continue to attend hearings. The other victim has raised a family, but continues to attend hearings fearing that Walunga will be released.”

During Walunga’s 1998 parole hearing, the board decided that letting him free was out of the question and that it would not ever again consider his application. But in 2005 a new parole board decided his case could again be heard and he applied for parole in 2008.

During that hearing, Walunga entered into the record a psychiatric report, but at the time the victim’s family was not allowed to see that report.

As a result of the 2008 hearing, an earlier evaluation came to light. It has been done by Dr. Martin Astrops of Tongass Community Counseling Center, who said Walunga had a high risk of again perpetrating sexual assaults on women and is a “sexually violent predator.”

Walunga, however, said he found God and said he would be no harm to others unless confronted with “his temptation to form adulterous friendships with abnormally large breasted women.”

It was an emotionally trying time for the Stambaugh brothers, but Walunga was successfully kept behind bars in 2008.

Walunga’s next parole hearing is schedule for the week of July 16, 2018 at Goose Creek Correctional Institution. At least one member of the Stambaugh family will attend.

On May 15, Walunga wrote to the parole board that “I am no longer the emotionally immature person I was, approximately 45 years ago. When I became a Christian, pastors and  Christian volunteers to prison have helped me down through the years, to heal what led to my heinous crime. I will never commit murder again. I value human life and, throughout my imprisonment, have attempted to better the lives of fellow men.”

However, in 2015, he was evaluated to be a “high medium” risk on an assessment known as the Level of Service Inventory, with the risks identified as alcohol and drug problems, education, employment, emotional, and personal.

The Parole Board also takes comments from the public.

Now is the time for the community to speak. If you agree that Mr. Walunga should remain in prison, write to the parole board today.

The email address is parole.board@alaska.gov , and make sure to send a copy of your letter to the Office of Victim’s Rights at Katherine.Hansen@akleg.gov

Sample wording for your letter to the Parole Board — use your own words:

RE: 1972 Stambaugh rape and murder

Dear Alaska Parole Board;

I urge you to not release a murderer coming up for parole who is a danger to society.  Please do not release Allen Walunga.

It only takes a minute, but your voice matters to the safety of our entire community.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to the Stambaugh family for their help with this story.)

Donations Welcome
Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Well said!

  • A troubling post, Suzanne. I went to high school with Jody and know her brothers Gary and Irl.
    I don’t feel very good for some reason.
    More brilliant journalism by MRAK; publishing stories that the politically-correct media misses or ignores.

  • NEVER he should have been given the DEATH penalty “Oh” that’s right we have never had a governor with the balls to introduce one!!!

  • I was a student at UAF at the time of the murder and lived in the dorm where this tragic event occurred. I knew Walunga slightly, but from what I heard of him from people better acquainted with him, he definitely had extremely serious “issues” long prior to the murder. He by all means should not be released.

  • Horrifying story. My heart grieves for the victims families. The Alaska justice system failed in 1972 to protect the public from this known threat. With the progressive attitude that presently exists in this state government, it’s fearful to even allow consideration of this evil person for parole. Has he possibly changed? One can hope, but regardless, there are consequences for actions. As we have no death penalty, his should be life imprisonment without consideration of parole. Has SB 91 had any impact on his ability to qualify for parole?

  • Wow- I lived in Moore Hall in the 80s and never heard about this. I will definitely let the parole board know how I feel.

  • Please everyone, write the parole board! Walunga must never be released. It is wonderful that he has become a Christian – there are many benefits, even to society at large, for that conversion. That conversion will not remove his temptation to offend again violently and sexually. Even the Apostle Paul, writing in Romans 7, recognized that sin still lives in us. As we grow in the grace of our Lord, we become more conscious of our sin and tend to sin less, but tempted we still are. This is particularly egregious in the case violent sexual offenders. The sexual act lays an imprinting in the brain that equates intense pleasure with reenactment of the first sexual experiences – this is why virgins who marry and remain faithful to each other report more satisfying sex lives than others, and why the coupling of violence with sex creates such extreme danger to society. Walunga in his late 60s is very much a danger of offending again violently and sexually, and he will be tempted to such for the rest of his life on this earth. Imprinting information gleaned from research done at the Universities of Wisconsin, Madison, and Texas, Austin – authors and titles no longer in my memory, sorry… Do not release this man under any circumstance except to attend his own funeral.

    • Well Rich, you are taking some liberty with your ” this is why virgins who marry and remain faithful to each other report more satisfying sex lives than others..”
      Care to give us some reference where you get this information?
      We sometimes don’t just trust the honor system but require verification.

      • Studies I referenced above were done in the mid 1990s and publicized by Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. The info is out there – you take the time to find it.

        • Nice cop-out there Rich. You are the one that made reference to some pretty outlandish studies but you want us to look it up.
          We’ll just put you down as one who embellishes, without justification.

          • No cop out Bill, just a matter of the time I have available – I tell the truth, and my memory (while not what it once was) is still sharp. What’s your excuse for denying the obvious?

        • You say you tell the truth, Rich but you are unwilling to back up your version. And you now say it’s not a cop-out.
          And then suggest that your version is also “obvious!” Whew!

  • Thanks for spreading the word on this Suzanne, this guy should never be released…ever!

  • I remember this horrific case. My email has gone forward to the parole board. May justice prevail.

  • Absolutely NOT! With his history,
    No! I remember this case and Never should this man walk out of prison!!!

  • Thanks Suzanne. This guy needs to die in prison and the sooner the better

  • Parole board email sent. Thank you Suzanne!

  • After reading this and other articles such as https://www.adn.com/voices/article/death-penalty-would-end-punishment-victims-family/2009/03/08/ there is no way this guy needs to get released. Rapists do not get rehabbed in prison… the make some claim that they find religion, but that is not rehab. HE MUST NEVER GET OUT FOR ANY REASON.

  • JDHS Class of 1972….Lets band together for Jodi! She was not allowed to experience all of the wonderful class reunions and makes memories that we all have. Do you remember being in classes or activities with her? Let’s keep her memory alive and help her brothers with this cause. ⚫️🔴⚫️🔴Go Bears!⚫️🔴⚫️🔴

  • RE: 1972 Jody Stambaugh rape and murder

    Dear Alaska Parole Board;

    I urge you to not release a murderer coming up for parole who is a danger to society. Please do not release Allen Walunga.

    I grew up a close friend of Jody Stambaugh, living just 2 blocks away from her from 1959 until her death. I considered her my best friend (as I know my sister and many other good friends did as well), and her brother Gary like a brother all those years. I knew her parents well, and she knew mine. We were church friends, church camp buddies, girl scout buddies, active in choir and theater together, camped, hiked and fished together, and often spent the nights in each others’ houses. When I first attended college a year ahead of Jody in Vermont, I went to visit Jody for Christmas in Oslo, Norway where she was attending a folk highschool year. Together she and I travelled to Finland to visit a previous Juneau exchange student there who lived with Stambaughs a couple of years previously in Juneau.

    I have continued to remain friends with Gary Stambaugh, through music and skiing, and occasional talks about Jody’s killer and its horrible inpact on their family; and the impossibly horrible responsibility of the two remaining brothers having to keep up on the killer’s repeated attempts to get parole.(though I knew Irl, he was a bit older in school and moved away from Juneau before Jody and Gary were in college.)

    When Jody was killed, I returned early from college and travelled with Gary back up to college to bring back his possessions, as he ceased going to college at that time in Fairbanks. I spent the following 6 weeks in Juneau doing a winter college session working as an aide at Auke Bay School. I rode the bus each morning to and from school, and almost daily on the radio news on the bus I heard more about the case. I believe the radio station was KINY or KJNO, and could be checked for details, or perhaps in the Juneau empire. The killer said he had felt provoked about Jody’s strong religion, which clashed with his own native american religion. This from a known abuser; such an awful false defense. I thought at the time he could think of nothing better to support his abhorent killing deed?? There is no defense for rape and murder. I knew Jody’s religious views very well, and they were in no way prosteletizing ones. She was a loving, warm, kind person to the core.

    Jody’s parents got the best lawyer in Juneau, perhaps beyond, to sue the college for letting such a cruel young man into a coed college dorm without checking him out, so causing Jody’s death. I watched and listened over the year as they lost their case to the higher paid university lawyers. The Stambaughs had to sell their house and everything they owned to pay the cost of the lawsuit. They ended up living in a small apartment near the graveyard where their daughter lay buried. Their lives were miserable. Their mother lost supportive church and friends in her continued grief.

    Though the killer is never supposed to make eye contact in any way with members of the victim’s family, he does so each time at the hearings Gary has attended, causing further grief and harm. Walunga should never be allowed out of jail, should never come up for parole, and this should hold firmly so that no further attendance has to be made by Gary or Irl. They should not be slighted in any way or thought to be less vigilant, but they should not have to continue the pain by dealing in any way with the courts KEEPING THE KILLER BEHIND BARS FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

    I will be there for Gary and be happy to speak if necessary during the hearing of June of 2018.

    Sincerely,

    Kate Boesser, retired teacher and librarian

    • Touching comment Kate. I was unaware of all of the aftermath. You are a true friend of Jody’s. Take care.

  • Well written. I have submitted my comments to the parole board.

  • There should be zero chance of Walunga going free. The final payment he must make for his crime will be his death in jail.

  • Thank you for writing this and taking the time to remember Jodi as many of her class mates have over all these years. I have sent a letter and copied Katherine as well. I know many of our class mates have done the same. Greeting to you Suzanne, again thank you !

  • Email sent to the parole board and Katherine copied. Thanks for the story Suzanne. The last thing Alaska needs is more filth on the street.

  • Thank you Ms. Downing for this insightful article, and your followup through the years. As with a few others, I was there with Jody, in a relationship, and lived in the dorm at the time; testifying at the trial; and will be writing the parole board prior to the hearing. In hindsight, the courts did no favor to the family, loved ones, and society at large for the sentencing, and the subsequent resurfacing of parole cycles, emotions, stress. This was murder, vile, evil, by one whose rap sheet preceded his living at the University impacting many souls for years. Jody remains in our hearts, with fond remembrance.

  • Irl Stambaugh
    I would like to thank Suzanne Downing for a well written article and thank the readers whose kindness and memories of Jody are a bright spot in this never ending nightmare to keep Walunga in jail

  • I just received an email from the parole board. They did not release him on parole.

    Thank you for reaching out to provide comment to the Board. The hearing convened today, July 17, and Mr. Walunga was denied by the Board to release to discretionary parole. If we can be of further assistance please let us know.