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Bear, moose victim wakes

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A state wildlife biologist at the scene of a bloody June attack on Anchorage’s Fred Mayac/Alaska Department of Fish and Game photo

On the day after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game revealed its conclusion that a bear attack cum moose stomping on the edge of an upscale Anchorage neighborhood a month ago might be neither,  the victim of the assault finally started talking.

Unfortunately, 50-year-old Fred Mayac appears to have no memory of what happened to him near the Campbell Creek Estuary Park at the end of  June, said friend Flossie Spencer, who admitted to being shocked by the Mayac she encountered at the Alaska Native Medical Center on Saturday.

“He was sitting up on one elbow yesterday,” she said in a phone interview Sunday. “It was like a miracle.”

Mayac had been in a coma for almost a month.

Friends asked Mayac what he remembered, she said, but did not press him. Detectives with the Anchorage Police Department have yet to interview Mayac, Spencer said, and nobody wanted to muddy the investigation.

We told him that there were witnesses that say he was taken by a man. He says he doesn’t remember. So we dropped the subject because we didn’t want to influence his memory.

“He was kind of fuzzy,” she added. “We just spent our time talking about how happy we were he was alive.”

Attacked with a hammer?

Spencer does, however, have her own opinion on what she thinks happened to Mayac, an ivory-carver originally from Nome. She is suspicious he could be a victim of the man the Alaska Dispatch News last week  identified as “avenging angel” Jason Vukovich.

The 41-year-old Vukovich was on June 29 charged with multiple accounts of assault on Wesley Demarest, a registered sex offender. Vukovich, according to charging documents, attacked Demarest with a hammer.

In a five-page report on the attack on Mayac released Friday, Fish  and Game officials revealed they had a June 10 conversation with doctors about the Mayac case and raised the possibility he might have been assaulted by someone with a hammer.

“ADF&G personnel were confident that the injuries sustained by the victim were more consistent with a moose attack than a bear attack, particularly since an agitated moose was on scene and there were an extreme number of moose prints around the scene of the attack. But they were still concerned that this could have been an assault instead of an animal attack,” the report reads. “Before concluding the conversation with Dr. (Steve) Floerchinger, (wildlife biologist Dave) Battle asked if there was any possibility that the wounds sustained by the victim were the result of an attack by a human armed not with a knife, but an implement not commonly used in assaults, such as a garden hoe or a claw hammer.”

Battle’s query came more than two weeks before the 67-year-old Demarest was attacked in his home by a man with a hammer.

“Demarest said the intruder asked if he was a registered sex offender and if he was Wesley Demarest,” the Dispatch’s Tegan Hanlon reported. “Demarest said he answered ‘Yes.’

“‘He asked if I thought I paid for my crime,” Demarest said. ‘I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘No, you didn’t pay for it enough.’

“The intruder talked about a list he had in his car with the names of other registered sex offenders, Demarest said.”

On the list

Mayac is a registered sex offender. Thirteen years ago, he pleaded no contest to a charge of sexual abuse of a minor. Spencer said the case involved a teenage girl.  She believes Mayac made a mistake, accepted his punishment and cleaned up his life.

“He’s a nice guy,” she said, adding that she has never in any way felt threatened by him. But he is on that sex offender list, and the sex offender list is public. It shows his address as 2607 Arctic Boulevard #11.

That’s the address of the Arctic Bed and Breakfast where Mayac works and where he was last seen on June 8 when other residents of the apartment complex said he was picked up by an unidentified man.

Mayac would not be seen again, or at least no one would report seeing him, until around 9 p.m. that evening when he was discovered badly injured along a dirt road near the city park. He was at first reported as the victim of an assault.

But “while caring for the victim, emergency room medical personnel reported to APD that they believed (his) wounds were the result of a bear mauling and not from a criminal assault,” according to the Fish and Game report released Friday.

Wildlife officials were notified of the possible bear attack early the next morning. They went to the park where they found blood and drag marks indicating, according to one of the biologists, that Mayac been attacked in the middle of a narrow, dirt road and then dragged himself off to the side.

There was no bear sign to be found near the scene of the attack, although Battle did later encounter a 136-pound, female black bear in the area. When it showed no fear of humans, he shot and killed it. The bear turned out to be innocent, and the investigation moved on.

Shifting views on wild assailants

“There were a large number of moose hoof prints in the road in the immediate vicinity of the large pool of blood,” the report states. And there were witnesses who reported there were moose, at least one of which was described as “agitated,” in the area the day Mayac was injured.

The evidence was shifting the opinion of the wildlife biologists from bear to moose, but when they met with doctors on June 10 – two days after the attack on Mayac – disagreements remained as to the assailant.

“When concluding the discussion with Dr. Floerchinger and after a brief examination of the victim’s sutured wounds, (wildlife physiologist Sean) Farley remarked that if this were a bear attack, it would be the first in which he was unable to identify any evidence of a bear at the attack site or from the configuration of the wounds,” the Fish and Game report says. “Farley has directly participated in investigation of eight bear attacks, examined evidence from three others, both bear and wolf; and attended multi-day, international training discussing specific cases of animal attacks.”

“The sharp hooves of a young moose striking down no more than four or five times, without breaking ribs/bones, could be one possible cause of the victim’s wounds,” the report concluded, but then it added some new information.

“The single hair recovered from the victim’s chest was not from a moose, and it was initially retrieved from the chest of the victim, not from within a wound,” the report said. “The hair was not hollow, long and slightly brown like moose hairs.”

The hair was also not that of a bear. State wildlife officials gave the hair to police.

Spencer said she was skeptical of the moose-attack theory from the beginning because of the lack of bruising on Mayac’s body. Usually when people are stomped by moose, they are left badly bruised.

“Fred didn’t have any bruising,” she said, “and his head was very swollen.”

She was of the opinion someone had struck him repeatedly in the head. A blow or blows to the head would be in keeping with the attack on Demarest.

He told the Dispatch News that “a hammer slammed into his head and knocked him unconscious. The next thing he remembered was waking up, slumped on the ground in a pool of blood.”

Spencer admitted the key points here – a possible attack with a hammer on two registered sex offenders by someone claimed to be an avenging angel – could, if true, be a coincidence. But they would be a big coincidence.

The investigation of the Mayac case has been slowed by Mayac family concerns about his safety, she added. The family has been worried someone was targeting Fred and for that reason has tried to keep everyone away from him.

He has been kept in a room that requires a pass code to get in, she said. She is hoping, however, that with Fred up and talking now, the investigation starts moving forward.

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