ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Barrow couple has been indicted by a grand jury on charges including manslaughter in last month's death of a 3-year-old girl, one of two girls who were trapped overnight in a bedroom with a window open to temperatures of 30 degrees below zero.
North Slope Borough police say Richard Tilden Jr. and Esther Edwards-Gust, both 28, are charged with criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and second-degree assault. Tilden also faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and first-degree assault.
Tilden was arrested at the couple’s apartment on the 200 block of Momeganna Street last month, after police responded to a Feb. 2 call for a child who wasn’t breathing and found the 3-year-old also without a pulse. The girl and her 1-year-old sister were both diagnosed with extreme hypothermia and medevaced to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, where the 3-year-old later died.
Tilden, who stayed home to take care of Edwards-Gust’s children while she worked as a second-grade teacher at Fred Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow, told police he had left the bedroom window open on the morning of Feb. 1 because the girls wet their beds. After putting the children to bed at about 9 p.m., he then drank two bottles of Rich and Rare whiskey he’d purchased from accused bootlegger Samisoni Fotukava, then fell asleep at about 2 a.m. and woke up at a time officers estimated as about 12:30 p.m. Feb. 2.