George’s Last Night – Timeline

George’s timeline is established through his interrogation, alibi interviews, testimony at trial, and his own account. Times are verified by more than one source. One of the biggest problems George faces was his level of intoxication, and inability to be his own alibi for portions of the night.

9:30 pm – George and his girlfriend Crystal Sisto call a cab and head to the Eagle’s Hall for the wedding reception at the Eagle’s Hall. The cab ride takes perhaps 10 minutes. When they arrive there is not much going on, and they only stay a short while.

10:00 pm – George and Crystal leave the reception on foot and walk down to 2nd Avenue.

10:05 pm – A few minutes into their walk they run into Vernon Roberts, Edgar Henry, and John Folger. Crystal decides to head to the Elbow Room bar, while George, Vernon, Edgar and John decide to head to George and Crystal’s apartment.

10:30 pm – George, Edgar, Vernon, and John stop by Thrifty Liquor, a liquor store on the way to George’s apartment. There they buy two cases of Miller genuine Draft and a 750mL bottle of Bacardi rum.

11:00 pm – The group arrives back at George and Crystal’s apartment, where Antonio Sisto and Dawn Carrol are babysitting. Antonio and Dawn visit for perhaps ten minutes, then head upstairs for the night shortly after the group arrives.

11:10 pm – George, Vernon, Edgar, and John begin drinking. They play Up River, Down River (an Alaskan variation on a card drinking game) and Quarters. They drink all of the beer playing these games. George and Edgar drink the most, probably consuming ten or twelve beers each.

12:30 pm – Crystal returns home to the apartment with Patrick Henry. Crystal has been drinking, but Patrick Henry does not drink and is completely sober. Patrick went with Crystal to the apartment to get the group there and return with everyone to the reception. He wants to leave right away, but the group continues drinking for the next hour or so, George drinks several shots of Bacardi. At this point George has drank about 12 beers and at least three shots of liquor. He is 150lbs. Even by conservative measure, his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) would be about .358 This level of intoxication can actually be lethal, and can induce comas. Blackouts become “likely” at a Blood Alcohol Content of .20. Read about BAC levels and their symptoms HERE Calculate his BAC on your own HERE

1:20-1:30am – George leaves the apartment with John Folger, Vernon Roberts, Edgar Henry, and Patrick Henry, at this point he is extremely intoxicated. He remembers walking for a short time, but blacks out between 16th and 17th Avenue. The group walks toward the reception but decides to stop to visit a friend along the way and warm up. This time was confirmed several ways. Crystal Sisto who was at the apartment estimates that the group left at 1:30. When George arrives at the hospital and is interrogated, he states that he left his apartment between 1:20-30am, and blacked out shortly after. In a police interview and court testimony the late Patrick Henry states they left the apartment at about 1:30. Vernon Roberts confirms they left as a group and cannot remember the time. This time frame is crucial because this was the time when John Hartman was assaulted.

1:30-1:40 – George, John, Vernon, Edgar, and Patrick stop by Shannon Charlie’s apartment on 11th Avenue (George has no memory of this, others involved established this time frame). They stay for a short time and head to the reception.

2:00am – George, Edgar, and Patrick Henry arrive at the Eagle’s Hall. Patrick heads inside while Edgar and George drink with a group in the parking lot. Patrick Henry says the two were so drunk he felt he had to “babysit” them. He stayed inside the reception about 3am.

3:00 am – Patrick Henry returns to the parking lot to retrieve George and Edgar, who are still there. The trio walk to the Elbow Room bar, where Patrick Henry goes inside. Despite being underage, George and Edgar follow him inside. The bartender kicks George out (this is one of the few moments George recollects from these hours, and has a brief memory of being chased out of the Elbow Room).

3:00 am  – 3:15 am –  Agnes Brockmeyer arrives at the Elbow Room to pick up her father, Johnny David. She sees George, her father, and a group “horse-playing” on the sidewalk outside the bar. George approaches her and asks for a ride home. She says he was not limping or injured at all. Agnes gives George a ride. He gets out a Midtown inexplicably and walks toward the direction of home. (George remembers getting a ride with Johnny David, and remembers being at Midtown. He references both during his interrogation). Vernon Roberts confirms that he parted ways with George at Elbow Room around 3am. Vernon walks back to George’s apartment with Patrick Henry, John Folger, and Edgar Henry. The three do not know that George caught a ride with Agnes, and are concerned that he is missing, given his level of intoxication. Vernon and Patrick Henry both state that George did not have an injured foot at this time. Three witnesses confirm his foot was not injured. This is important because the prosecution will allege that he had badly injured his foot kicking John Hartman at 1:30am, which would mean he should have been injured at this time.

4:00 am (about) – George arrives back at home where all of the original group are at his apartment (Crystal, Patrick, Edgar, John, Vernon) and have been joined by Crystal’s cousin Rachel, who brought another bottle of liquor. George begins drinking again at the apartment and remembers drinking several shots. He again blacks out and does not remember anything until waking up the next afternoon. Crystal states that during this time, George and Vernon got in a wrestling match over the last cigarette that started lighthearted and became a bit serious. She believes this is how George injured his foot. He has not memory of this time, but presumably kept drinking. (Others state that he continued drinking, slept a brief while, stopped by another apartment for a few beers, and then slept briefly in the afternoon at the apartment).

Afternoon – George wakes up with severe pain in his left foot. So severe he is at first unable to walk, and crawls down the stairs, where many of last nights guests remain. At this point Antonio Sisto asks him how he hurt his foot. Although he does not remember how he hurt his foot, he tells Antonio he hurt it in a fight. “I actually wanted it to be from a fight,” George said, “I wanted some sort of social praise. Little did I know that when I told the same story to the receptionist at the hospital that there was a fifteen year old boy in the Intensive Care Unit.”  After deciding that the pain is extreme and his foot is likely broken he calls for a ride to the hospital.

3:30 pm – George checks into the E.R. with an injured foot. When the receptionist asks him how he hurt his foot, he tells her he hurt it in a fight. Although there is no record of George’s Blood Alcohol Level (a Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Nurse confirms that it is standard practice to take a BAC reading in intoxicated patients), if we assume that he only drank two more beers and four more shots of liquor (his companions think he drank even more), his BAC level would be .314 when he checked into the hospital.


When George checks into the hospital he tells the receptionist the same story he told his Antonio: that he hurt his foot fighting. Pretty tough-Indian thing to say, but not true. He thought it was a cool thing to say, made him seem tough, and certainly cooler than “I was so drunk I don’t know.”

Diane Hill has been upstairs, performing a sexual assault exam on John Hartman. When she comes down she is assigned a patient.. In a happenstance that will change the rest of his life, Diane Hill is assigned George Frese as her next patient. The triage nurse tells nurse Diane Hill when she hands over the chart that a drunk Native kid is in with a hurt foot and says he hurt it in a fight.

She testifies during trial that when she went into room where George was waiting to have his foot looked at she entered and they had the following exchange, which persuaded her that he was involved with the beating of John Hartman “I understand that you were in a fight downtown last night, and kicked someone, and hurt your foot, is that right? And he answered Yes.”

Diane Hill then calls the Fairbanks Police and says she believes one of the murders is there as a patient. George is transferred, according to his girlfriend Crystal, to an odd and secure room. According to Crystal the police show up and begin aggressively interrogating and threatening George for some time before his interrogation begins.

Read about his interrogation HERE, including links to transcripts of the interrogations.


When George said he was blacked out of periods of time, the police insist that it is SCIENTIFICALLY impossible to black out and indicate that he will be charged with sexual assault and murder if he continues to insist that it is the case. Read about the science of blackouts HERE. There are plenty of articles about the science or blackouts, so feel free to post any others you find!

In a nutshell, over consumption of alcohol can block neurons and inhibit the formation of memory, meaning that the memories are not there “deep in the brain” as the detectives insist, but actually were never created, so try as a person might, the memories cannot be accessed because they are not there.

George’s level of intoxication was such that he could not be his own alibi. However, his level of intoxication is such that it also seems unlikely he could participate in an assault. There are significant witnesses who were willing to provide alibi testimony. Many were ignored by the police AND defense council (see affidavit of Agnes Brockmeyer below who tried to contact both the police and attorney). Some, most notably Patrick Henry, Edgar Henry, and Antonio Sisto were threatened, lied to, and made to feel that if they continued to provide an alibi that they would be charged with this or another crime. Although George Frese’s attorney did not call any alibi witnesses, Patrick Henry testified to timeline in a different trial.

It is also worth noting that George says he left his house at 1:30am during his interrogation. Crystal also makes this statement to the police, and so does Patrick Henry. They state this time BEFORE even the police knew the time of John Hartman’s beating, and without a chance to speak to each other and “create” a timeline, as the prosecution would constantly hint at trial.

Murder on a Winter Night

Although the story of the Fairbanks Four has roots in history, both recent and distant, the story we are attempting to tell begins in the early morning hours of October 11, 1997 with the brutal murder of a teenaged boy on a on a freezing cold Alaska night.

He was found alone, draped over a snow covered curb, bleeding, barely breathing, life leaving him. His pants were around his knees. He was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where he would die the next day. He remained unconscious and had no identification. It was many hours before anyone knew his name, but eventually the people of Fairbanks, Alaska would remember that name forever.

John. John Hartman. It is important to say his name singularly, alone. Partly because it is never wise to speak the name of the dead lightly, partly because it is wise to remember that there is power in a name spoken aloud. It reaches the living, and hurts them again. Touches them where they were hurt once, on the wound that never heals. It echos into the air and the wind takes it through leaves, past branches, to heaven, to the other side. The dead hear us say their name and we should never forget that.

He was just a boy, caught in the season of change, where you play at being a man because you almost are.  On October 11, 1997 he walked toward home one last time and something terrible happened. Feet and fists and hatred of unknown origins landed on his body over and over and over until he was very still, cast away and left for dead on the streets of downtown Fairbanks.

This is what we know of his last night on Earth, gathered primarily from newspaper accounts, police reports, trial transcripts, and the work of reporter Brian O’Donoghue alongside his UAF journalism students. Their detailed account of John Hartman’s last night can and should be read here. We have distilled it to the very basics below.

 John spent most of the evening with his two friends, EJ Stevens and Chris Stone, at the Rainbow Inn Motel. It is a place not unlike many across the country, and strikingly similar to a motel across town called the Alaska Motor Inn that also became a crucial location in the murder investigation. In 1997, both motels had dull gray exteriors, peeling paint, and bad reputations. The rainbow that dominated the sign at the Rainbow Inn made a mockery of the slum that waited inside. In 1997 it was known as a good place to score drugs, and a bad but cheap place to live. The floors were tilted and the carpet stank.

John’s friend EJ was there babysitting a toddler that night at the Rainbow Inn. John and Chris went there to hang out. It has been alleged that they took LSD, perhaps meth, and antidepressants, and that John had a seizure there. At the Rainbow Inn, and throughout the day, John was wearing very distinctive camouflage pants. This orphan fact has troubled many who followed the case closely enough to know that a short time after leaving the Rainbow Inn John would be found dying with his friend Chris’ corduroy pants around his knees, the camouflage pants missing. From the time that EJ, Chris, and John departed the Rainbow Inn, a countdown to his murder begins.

1:12am  When the parent of the toddler returned home, he was not happy to see that EJ had invited John and Chris over. He paid for the boys to take a cab to EJ’s house across town.

1:20am (approximately).  EJ’s mother watched the boys get out of the cab. Her son came inside and, she says, John Hartman and Chris Stone walked off together. Chris Stone claims the opposite, that they headed in separate directions, with John Hartman walking down the road toward the site of his murder, and Chris heading the opposite way.

1:30am John Hartman was beaten and viciously murdered at the corner of 9th Avenue and Barnette Street.

1:45am Chris Stone ran into Foodland, a grocery store a few blocks from the murder site, panicked, saying something about his friend being hurt. Around this time Chris left a terrified-sounding message for family friend Barbara Higgins. She tried for weeks to persuade police to get a copy of the message. They were not interested, and eventually it was accidentally erased.

2:50am A car full of people leaving a downtown wedding reception (a location that would become central to the investigation) found John Hartman barely clinging to life on the curb. He was not wearing his camouflage pants, but Chris Stone’s blue corduroy pants, and they are down around his knees. The motorists called 911 and John Hartman was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

6:30am After many hours of care in the ICU, and hours spent searching for his family who thankfully were located in time to wait at his deathbed, John Hartman was declared dead. At that moment John Hartman officially became a murder victim. He left this world for the next. The lives of his loved ones changed forever. The lives of many, many people changed forever.

There will be many future posts in which will discuss the flaws of the investigation, the way that racism appears to have figured into the arrests and convictions of the Fairbanks Four, what we see as corruption, and much more. But for now, we want to let the very sad story of what happened to this young man stand separately, as it should.

Keep in mind that we are not reporters, but activists. There is ample, incredibly detailed reporting on this case. Please visit Extreme Alaska to read a detailed account of John Hartman’s last day. You can also read details of Chris Stone’s movements, his testimony, the story of how he had suffered a similar and severe beating a few weeks earlier, and much, much more information than we could provide here in the Newsminer series about the case published in 2007.