A state trooper interviewed Willis the day after the assault. A knife was recovered at the scene the day of the attack.
The assault took place after Willis was on the receiving end of two threatening incidents in the past few weeks. In the first incident, in mid-November, she found a note crammed under her pickup truck’s windshield wiper, reading: “Dumb Ass Dyke, we don’t want your gay libtard ass shit here so take it some where else before you get hurt!!!”
A little over a week later, Willis says she was driving to Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna, Alaska, where she serves as the associate director of residence life, when she saw someone standing in the bed of a pickup at the side of the road. That person threw something that broke her windshield.
Willis reported the incident to police. Officers found a rock with the word “dyke” written on it at the spot, although they didn’t find any sign of a parked pickup. However, Willis said her friends did see indications that a vehicle stopped and backed into position when they went to the scene later.
Soldotna Police have investigated the threatening note and rock-throwing incident, and both cases are considered closed. Alaska troopers are investigating the home invasion as an assault and attempted burglary — and only sent the knife found at the crime scene for testing last Thursday.
Sterling Highway between Seward and Soldotna, Alaska – Photo: Steve Lyon, via Wikimedia.
Willis, who believes the three incidents are all related and may constitute a hate crime, is living on campus at the college in order to take advantage of the security protections there. She and her wife also have a house in Anchorage.
Unfortunately for Willis, Alaska doesn’t have a hate crime statute that protects sexual orientation or gender identity. Still, she believes she was targeted because of her LGBTQ activism, and others should be warned.
“I recognize that Alaska does not consider sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected class and therefore it’s not a hate crime, but to just say it’s a burglary or it’s an assault is doing a disservice to the LGBT community on the Peninsula,” she said.
As a result of her frustration with the slow pace of the investigation, Willis posted a description of the events of the past month on her Facebook page. The post was seen by State Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), who called the trooper on the case to check on the status of the case because of her concern about the escalation of events where Willis appeared to be targeted.
“It’s not known at this time whether they are related,” Tarr told the Daily News. “That’s totally fair; the troopers need to have time to investigate. But I think a reasonable person sees a threatening note, then there’s an incident, then there’s a very violent incident where this woman could have died. … That raises some red flags.”