Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Woman who died on busy Florida highway had lived in Homer



By SHELDON GARDNER
Morris News Service

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A woman who died on Interstate 95 South in St. Augustine, Fla., the night of Dec. 5 after a pickup truck hit her, was an Alaska woman who had a troubled history with Alaska police.

Denise Ann Tatum, 35, was standing or crossing the interstate near State Road 16 when a Ford F-150 pickup truck pulling a trailer hit her around 7 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Tatum died at the scene. The driver and passenger of the truck, who were from Pennsylvania, were not harmed.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan said investigators used fingerprints as well as a description of tattoos to track down her identity. Tatum had many tattoos across her body, including a "dragon-like tattoo" on her face, according to Bryan. The tattoos helped police identify her.

How or why Tatum came to St. Augustine is not known, but a few months before she died, she was thousands of miles away in Alaska.

Anchorage Police Department's public information officer Lt. Dave Parker said police there arrested her in July on a charge of trespassing after they said she wandered into a stranger's house to take a shower.

Tatum was also a suspect in a stalking case involving a consulting businesses in Anchorage that began in 2004, Parker said. Someone made harassing phone calls and sent letters to someone at the business. The letters came from a hospital in Washington. Police said Tatum had been a patient in a hospital in Washington at that time. More calls were made in August.

No one was charged in the case.

"The case was left as a pending case, but apparently she left the state," Parker said.

She was also listed as a missing person for a short time. In May, a family member from Alabama went to visit her in Anchorage, and shortly after lost contact with her and reported her missing, Parker said. Police were able to contact her. Tatum provided different addresses to police, one each from Homer, Anchorage and Colorado Springs.

"Every time she contacted us she seemed to have a different address," he said.

Tatum was listed as a Homer resident in an online report from Alaska State Troopers. In April, Tatum was arrested and taken to the Homer jail after troopers said she provided them with a false name as well as for driving without a valid license, according to that report.

The crash that killed Tatum is under investigation. Charges have not been filed.

Sheldon Gardner is a reporter for the St. Augustine Record.

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