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Vance Wolford convicted of attempted sexual assault in Homer

The Homer Courthouse on May 31, 2024.
Jamie Diep
The Homer Courthouse on May 31, 2024.

Content warning: The following story contains graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault, and may not be suitable for all readers and listeners. For resources about reporting sexual assault contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at any time at 1-800-656-4673. People on the southern Kenai Peninsula can reach the Haven House at 907-235-8943. People on the eastern Kenai Peninsula can reach the Safe Harbor domestic violence and sexual assault 24 hour crisis line at 907-362-1843.

Vance Wolford, 31, was found guilty of attempted first-degree sexual assault, first-degree indecent exposure, two counts of fourth-degree assault, two counts of first-degree stalking and two counts of criminal trespass in the first degree. Homer police arrested Wolford in 2022 after he made unwanted advances on two women that escalated to attempted assault and indecent exposure with one of them.

District Attorney Jon Iannaccone said a case of attempted sexual assault from a stranger is rare, and that the defensive actions of both women led law enforcement to quickly arrest Wolford.

“It was really a great quick thinking by both victims. Just really kind of amazing what they did,” he said, “and the second victim actually fought him off, figured out how to call 911 and get help in an amazing way and escape from him and was able to provide a really good detailed description so that law enforcement could capture him.”

According to a press release from the Department of Law, Wolford followed that second victim to her home and chased her into her vehicle. She fought him off while he attempted to sexually assault her. She dialed 911 and threw her phone out of Wolford’s reach while it connected to the car’s Bluetooth system.

An Alaska state trooper was dispatched. Homer police were also out looking for a suspect who harassed a woman in an earlier incident. They realized Wolford was the same person they were looking for and quickly found him.

Emily Wisdom was the victim from the earlier incident. Wolford approached her that same day while she was gardening outside her home. She told Wolford to leave, which he did. But, he returned less than an hour later. Wisdom recorded him and was able to get his vehicle’s license plate number. She said in an interview Thursday she was able to get that information to law enforcement.

“They were able to apprehend him quickly after he did assault her, because I did come forward and provide video evidence, a description, his license plate number,” she said, “and I think that helped apprehend him before he went on to do something even worse than what he did.”

Wolford has been in custody since his arrest. A jury deliberated for less than four hours before finding him guilty.

Wisdom said the going through the trial was more difficult than she expected, but she commended everyone involved.

“The other victim was an absolute rockstar,” she said, “and it was incredible to watch her get up and tell her story, which was very, very difficult. The work by the DA and the troopers and the Homer police that were involved was outstanding. They made us feel very heard and respected and protected.”

Wisdom said going through what Wolford did to her taught her to trust her gut.

“We shouldn't all be paranoid, but I think we all need to take a lesson and be more cautious and realize that there are dangerous people in the world,” she said.

Wolford’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 28 at the Homer Courthouse. He could face up to 99 years for the attempted sexual assault charge, with the possibility of more jail time for his other charges. His attorney declined a request for comment.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.