Troopers: Fire Didn’t Kill All Four Found Dead in Caswell Trailer

Azrealle C.D. Stewart is among those troopers believe was killed.

Alaska State Troopers said today that not all of the four people who were found dead Tuesday  inside a burned-out trailer home in Caswell died from the fire, but are releasing no further details except their suspected  identities. Troopers believe the four are two parents who were going through a divorce and their two young children.

Alaska State Court of Appeals records indicate that a man with the same unique  name as the father was convicted of kidnapping and torturing a different woman, his common law wife, in the presence of that couple’s two children. He also threatened to shoot and burn the children and himself if she ever left him.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation (BIA)  “is investigating the cause and manner of their deaths,” said Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters in a prepared release.

“The deceased are tentatively identified as 43-year-old Vannaphone Soundara, 23-year-old Azrealle C.D. Stewart, 4-year-old Akson S.T. Soundara and 1-year-old Kayson J.L. Soundara,” Peters said. “The State Medical Examiner’s office is working to positively ID the remains of the individuals. Not all of the individuals died as a result of the fire.”

“No further information regarding the investigation is being released at this time,” Peters said in the prepared press release. An investigator told the Alaska Pioneer Press on Friday, Nov. 12, that it may be a week or more before more information can be released.

BIA investigators visited the Talkeetna home where the mother and children lived  to gather DNA evidence from personal possessions, items that troopers hope may help with positive identifications. Troopers are also seeking photos that show the husband’s tattoos. Call 733-2256 to give troopers additional information about the case.

Azrealle Stewart, one of the managers at the Tesoro gas station in Sunshine, moved to Talkeetna in September with her two children after separating from Vannaphone Soundara. Court documents indicate that a divorce was in process. The couple sometimes shared child care duties.

The trailer in which they were found, on the property where the husband lived, was reported ablaze at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning by a passing motorist. It was fully-involved when the first emergency responder arrived. Stewart was seen in the company of a man who matches her husband’s basic description at her home in Talkeetna on Sunday evening and neighbors did not see evidence of her return to her Talkeetna home on Monday evening. Her car was in the shop, and the light-colored vehicle parked in her driveway Sunday night appeared to be the same as the one that was in front of the Caswell trailer after the fire.

A man named Vannaphone Soundara was convicted in Anchorage of torturing and threatening to kill another woman, who was his common-law wife, in 2000. The woman  said she was leaving him to move to California, according to documents filed with the Alaska Court of Appeals. He was convicted of  kidnapping, assault and other offenses, according to court records. He lost an appeal in 2006.

Below is a graphic recounting of the 2000 attack found in the appellate court case filing for Soundara vs. State. (The Pioneer Press has redacted the initials of the victim and cautions that the events described may be upsetting, particularly to those who knew the victims.)

“… On the  night  of May 6th, Soundara bound –s hands and feet  with  speaker wire.  For the next  six  or  seven hours,  Soundara  beat — intermittently  while  the couples two small children cried in a nearby bedroom. According  to  the States evidence,  Soundara whipped  — with speaker wire, hitting her more  than 30  times and leaving cuts and bruises over half of her body.  During  the  course of the hours-long  assault, Soundara strangled –  (again, with the speaker wire), he  struck  her with a knife handle and with  the  dull edge of  the knife blade, and he struck her  with  the butt of a gun.  At one point, Soundara pointed the  gun between  –s  eyes and threatened to shoot  her.  He also threatened to slice –s thigh with the knife and to  rub  salt into the wound.  And Soundara  told  — that  if she left him after this, he would shoot  their children,  set  fire  to them, and then  kill  himself. Finally, around five oclock in the morning on May  7th, Soundara released –.”

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