Student disappearance baffles police

Despite increasingly intensified efforts by police and family members to solve his abrupt disappearance, a UAA student, who has been missing for over two weeks, remains at large.

Chandler Braley, 22, of Fairbanks, was last seen by his roommate, Erika Johnson, Jan. 17 around 4 p.m. on his way to work at the Dance Spectrum studio. Johnson said Braley, who has been dealing with some mild depression, seemed to be in good spirits that day despite some minor emotional problems.

“We both have seasonal affective disorder and some other depression stuff, so right around this time of year it gets a little like ‘man, screw Alaska and the winter and this dark crap,'” Johnson said.

Although Johnson said Braley is sober now, as recently as 6 months ago he was struggling with substance-abuse issues. Johnson said Braley is working very hard to remain sober, although she raised the possibility that a relapse could have been a factor in his disappearance.

“He moved into my house because he was trying to recover-he had had a fairly serious substance abuse problem right from the time that I met him up until about six months ago-he really struggled with it,” she said. “He had a couple of benders and a couple of back-sliding kind of things, but nothing particularly severe. He was trying to get clean, and he was doing pretty well.”

Braley has no enemies of consequence, Johnson said, and is generally liked by most of his peers.

Johnson, who has known Braley for nearly nine years, said he left inexplicably for a few days last November, but returned shortly thereafter and checked himself into Providence hospital where he was treated for depression.

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Nothing, however, would have led her to believe that he would leave for such an extended period without first having informed somebody.

Braley’s mother, Barbara Braley, said her family filed a missing persons report with the APD on Jan. 19 and subsequently withdrew Chandler from his classes after he didn’t return. Barbara encountered some resistance from UPD when her husband, Allen, tried to file the report, because the department said Braley was no longer a student at UAA.

“We filed a missing persons report (with APD) on Thursday (Jan. 19) and haven’t heard from them,” she said. “They haven’t asked us any questions; I don’t know what they’ve done.”

Barbara said his friends have been organizing their own searches to canvass the city to try and find him and that she and her family have been trying to garner media support in an effort to bring attention to the case.

“The local reporter up here is trying to find out (what police are doing),” she said. “She said they haven’t done anything. She called them today and was like well, so, have you checked this, have you checked that? She’s motivating them by the fact she’s putting out a story (on Jan. 27) in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.”

Lt. Paul Honeman, director of public affairs at APD, said the department has put out a locate order on Braley’s vehicle, but the investigation has been stifled because his last known location is unknown. It was unclear whether points of exit for the state, such as the Canadian border or the airports, had been checked to determine if Braley had left the area, Honeman said.

“If he’s got a vehicle, he could have driven anywhere,” he said. “Some people go out and wander into the woods and disappear forever because they want to.”

Braley’s car has not been found abandoned, however, leaving police with little evidence to work with.

Honeman said police will be intensifying the search, which is being investigated by the homicide unit because that unit handles all adult missing persons claims.

“We now have our detectives who are going to do a little bit of follow up to find out if they can piece together any more information,” he said. “But what they did was-because of the delay in time reporting and the fact that he had been missing for at least three full days and there was no real point last seen, a starting point for a search-the decision was to take the report over the phone.”

Authorities think Braley had his gold-hued Toyota Camry, license AK BRC-570, with him when he disappeared. Braley is a junior majoring in English, although he is active in the theater department. He performed with UAA’s Dance Ensemble where he performed under the stage name Chandler Noyes, which is his mother’s maiden name.

Braley’s family last saw him on Dec. 26, the day they took him to the airport for his flight back to Anchorage from Fairbanks after winter break.

Those who may have additional information regarding the whereabouts of Chandler Braley are encouraged to contact the Anchorage Police Department.