State reports 2 deaths in Alaska correctional facilities

Jan. 16—Two men died Friday while incarcerated in separate Southcentral Alaska correctional facilities, authorities said.

Joshua Keith Zimmerman, 33, had been at the Anchorage Correctional Complex for a month before his death, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Corrections. Zimmerman was awaiting trial on charges including theft, escape, and violating conditions of his release in previous convictions, officials said.

The Alaska State Troopers are investigating Zimmerman's death and do not suspect foul play, said spokesman Austin McDaniel. The State Medical Examiner Office will determine his cause of death, McDaniel said Tuesday.

John Malcolm Groff, 82, also died Friday, the corrections department said.

Groff was housed at Goose Creek Correctional Center in Mat-Su and authorities said his death had been expected. Groff had been incarcerated for the last 15 years and was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, according to the state corrections department.

The department did not provide additional details about Groff's death, citing privacy and security regulations.

Groff and Zimmerman are the first two people to die this year while incarcerated at an Alaska correctional facility. Ten people died while incarcerated during 2023, down from a record-breaking 18 deaths the year before.