Sonya was murdered.
Nome Police Officer Matthew Owens, who is accused of killing Sonya, is now awaiting a second trial scheduled for October of 2005. (First was deadlocked, with the majority - 10 to 2 - voting for conviction.)
Sonya is known in the media as Sonya Ivanoff.
That is not her name. Her name is Sonya Dora Nitcuk Ivanoff, the entire name being important. It gives back a little of what has been taken away - who she is. (On the internet, of the 911 times that Sonya is mentioned, only one acknowledges her full name.)
She was born Native, an Inupiak Eskimo from the village of Unalakleet - an Inupiat Eskimo word meaning "where the east wind blows".
Sonya went to Nome, got a job on the swing shift at the local hospital, and was working for money to go to college - which she was to start that fall in Hawaii.
She liked to drink green tea, eat salt and vinegar chips, and sometimes made a junk food run to Tesoro around midnight. She knew how to make agutaq, Eskimo ice cream made with fish and berries.
Yes, fish and berries.
She loved her little nieces and nephew, and babies made her laugh. She loved holding them, and looked forward to having her own one day. She liked lip gloss.
I won't tell you the way her body was found.
You can run an internet search if you need to know.
What I want put out for the remembering about Sonya is that she was a loving, beautiful 19 year old Inupiak Eskimo woman from the village of Unalakleet, working her way to college in Nome, who made fish and berry ice cream,
and oh how she loved to
Remember her dancing.
To her family, I am so sorry to you for everything, first and most deeply for your losing your Sonya. I am sorry to you for the waiting for a suspect which must have been an eternity, and for having to know that reports of Sonya in Owens patrol car went unacknowledged for weeks. I am sorrowful for you that once he was arrested you had to endure watching his bail reduced, and for having to see his request granted to be put under house arrest on the Anchorage Hillside - where gorgeous homes with huge windows with beautiful views look over Anchorage and the Turnagain Arm... One woman said, "What a way to await a trial. What is a little ankle bracelet when you can drink your morning coffee with a view?" I am sorry. No one should know what you know, and yet too many do. I am sorry that he had to be free while Sonya was gone. I am sorry for how the first trial turned out, and for how hard it had to be every day in the courtroom, and then for having to learn that has to be done over again.
But my prayer is that the second trial will be done right, that whatever justice there is left to be had will be yours, and that you will be able to close this chapter of losing Sonya, and move on to the next one - missing her, and remembering her dance.
[rant police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder staged native american eskimo 1st world 3rd world people of color alaska state politics]