Friday, August 10, 2012

Eric Rise

Eric Rise
A marvel of organized efficiency, Ralph V. Anderson, “Andy” as he was known by his friends and relatives, me­ticulously placed the tools he needed into his tool box for the repairs he planned to make at a rental house he owned in Southeast Portland. He took along a jig­saw with extra blades, several screw­drivers of various sizes, a hammer, and an assortment of wrenches, everything he anticipated he might need at the house.
When Anderson had loaded the items into the trunk of his car, he telephoned a close female relative at work and told her what he intended to do, and said that he might be home late. After he hung up the phone, he called Puff, a cockapoo, and Pixie, a golden Pomeranian, and led the two dogs out of the house and into the car to accompany him to Portland. He then backed his car out of the driveway and headed towards his errand, unaware that it would be his last. Anderson was not seen alive again by his family or friends.
Anderson’s relative arrived home from her job at Manpower Temporary Services in Portland at about 5:30 that afternoon, Tuesday, January 22, 1985. She was glad to be home, she recalled later, when she turned into the driveway of her home, located in the 2000 block of Southwest I 38th Avenue in Beaverton, an affluent suburb of Portland. A ghost of a breeze rippled up the street as she climbed out of her car, bringing with it patters of rain that soon drummed like a percussion instrument on the roof of the car. It was a dreary evening, and she hastily ran inside to avoid getting soaked.
Noting that Anderson’s car was still gone, the relative, once inside the house, pondered the possibilities for dinner. Anderson had said he would be home early and would likely be hungry after doing the repairs at the rental house in Portland. But, by 7:00 p.m., there was still no sign of Ralph, and she decided to have dinner alone, keeping Anderson’s dinner warm in the oven.
By 8:00 p.m. and still no sign or word from Anderson, the relative knew some­thing was wrong. She had by that time gone into Ralph’s study to see if he had left any notes. However, there weren’t any notes to be found. She did discover, though, that Ralph had left his electric typewriter running, which gave her a vague, disquieting feeling of concern.
As time passed with still no word from Ralph, his relative’s feelings began to descend into her thoughts like some aw­ful incubus, which eventually gave way to a depressing pessimism deep inside. At first, she tried to remain hopeful that nothing had happened to him. But by 9:00 p.m., she could no longer withstand the mystery of Anderson’s absence by herself, so she telephoned a neighbor.
The neighbor, also a friend, came right over and tried to comfort the wor­ried woman as much as possible by reas­suring her that Ralph was fine and would soon be home. But Ralph’s continued absence proved her wrong and, at the urging of the relative, the neighbor tele­phoned the Beaverton Police Depart­ment.
Patrol officers were quickly dis­patched to Anderson’s single-level house and were met at the door by the neighbor. When the officers were led inside, they were told of the mysterious circumstances surrounding Anderson’s failure to return home. The relative told the officers that she had expected Ralph home before dark because,/ “he’s got a bad eye, and he doesn’t like to drive in the dark.” She told the officers that he rarely stayed out after dark, and she ex­pressed fear that he may have been in­volved in an accident.
The sympathetic officers were told that Anderson had been driving a light blue 1977 Ford Thunderbird with white trim when he left home that day, and its license plate identification was DKV 127, registered in Oregon. The relative also told the officers that Anderson had taken his two dogs with him that after­noon. When the officers had all the infor­mation, they assured the distraught rela­tive they would check with all area hos­pitals as well as with the Portland Police Bureau regarding Ralph Anderson. After all, it was possible, they said, that An­derson had been involved in an accident or, at his age, had become ill and had been hospitalized.
While waiting for the telephone to ring to bring news, the worried relative was, understandably, more tense than the technicians at a NASA countdown. When the telephone finally did ring sev­eral hours later, it startled the dozing woman back into consciousness. Unfor­tunately, however, there was no news regarding Ralph Anderson. His car hadn’t been reported in any accidents, and none of the hospitals had any record of his admittance. It seemed as if he had simply disappeared without a trace.
The next day, the neighbor drove Anderson’s relative to the rental house in Portland, located in the 7000 block of Southeast 85th Avenue. They pulled up in front of the small, squarish frame house situated on the corner, and parked on the street. As they got out of the car, they noted that the house, although occu­pied, had a long-vacant appearance. The yard was unkempt, and prompted the vis­itors to wonder if its condition reflected the personalities and life-styles of its resi­dents.
Anderson’s relative and her neighbor were met at the door by a young man of medium height, his face rather long and pale. His appearance was dull and hag­gard and he had a tired look in his eyes, as if he had worked all night. The visitors promptly identified themselves, and asked the young man if he had seen Ralph Anderson the previous day.
Seeming somewhat out of step with reality, the young man told them that Anderson had indeed stopped by the pre­vious day. He said that Anderson had done some minor repairs inside the house and had picked up the $180 rent that had been due for January. He said that An­derson had left early, and that he be­lieved it had been before dark. Con­vinced that the young man couldn’t offer them any valuable information, Ander­son’s relative and neighbor thanked him and left, reflecting that the young man’s ho-hum attitude made him seem either stupid or stoned, perhaps both.
Later that same day, Anderson’s rela­tive was visited by two detectives from the Beaverton Police Department’s Missing Persons Division. They asked her many routine questions as they probed Anderson’s background, and the obviously distraught relative filled in the blanks as best she could under the circumstances.
As a result of their questions, the sleuths learned that Ralph Anderson was self-employed as president of Education­al Planning Associates Inc., a corpora­tion he founded in 1967 to improve edu­cational techniques. Anderson had an inventive imagination, detectives were told, and his mind automatically con­verted everything to mathematics. Obvi­ously well-educated and polished, An­derson worked diligently in his attempts to elevate himself and didn’t feel right unless he was moving forward. He was an amiable man with a perpetual smile but was no man’s fool.
As an avid inventor, as he was de­scribed by those who knew him well, Anderson wanted to know the what, when, where, who, why and how of ev­erything. It was true that he seemed to burn the candle at both ends but, even at 77, Ralph seemed to have two wicks to burn. His relative told the inquiring de­tectives that he was especially devoted to children, and along those lines, he had invented a device known as Sum Sticks, which was used by educators to aid chil­dren in their understanding of the princi­ples of mathematics. The device was ac­tually blocks that split into more blocks.
When the detectives felt they had all the necessary information about the missing man, they thanked the relative and assured her they would do every­thing they could to locate him. However, just in case Ralph had met with foul play and because he had been carrying his house keys with him at the time of his disappearance, the probers advised the woman that she should have the locks to the house changed as soon as possible, which she did.
In the hours that followed, Bea­verton detectives, with the aid of the Portland Police Bureau, questioned the tenant of Anderson’s rental house but failed to learn anything more than they already knew. Scratching that avenue of investigation off as a big zero, the sleuths issued a statewide APB for Anderson’s light blue Thunderbird and decided to make inquiries with other acquaintances, friends and relatives of the missing man.
Was Anderson the type to simply leave home unexpectedly and remain gone for days? asked the detectives. Did he have a drinking problem, perhaps go off on long drinking binges? Did he ever become mentally incapacitated, perhaps due to his age, in which he became lost or disori­ented? Had anyone seen or heard from Ralph Anderson lately? The answer to these and other questions was, “no”. Ralph Anderson was described as a responsible, caring person by those who knew him, and he was regarded in good health. He rarely touched alcoholic beverages.

So where was he? The sleuths wondered. How does an old man, two dogs and an eight-year-old T-Bird vanish into thin air? Police agencies failed to turn up the car, and there were at that time no uniden­tified bodies matching Ralph’s descrip­tion lying in the morgue. Had he perhaps picked up a hitchhiker on his way home, only to be robbed and killed, with his body dumped at some remote site? It was, of course, a very real possibility, and it was along those lines that detectives con­tacted law enforcement agencies in Cali­fornia, Washington, Idaho and Nevada, Oregon’s border states, in their efforts to track down clues to his whereabouts. However, their efforts proved futile, as the various police agencies reported back negatively. Lawmen had to presume, for the moment, that Anderson and his car were still in the state.
The following day, the Portland Police Bureau was notified by a Southeast Port­land resident that credit cards bearing Ralph Anderson’s name had been found on the grounds of Kelly Elementary School, located in the 9000 block of Southeast Cooper Street, only blocks from the rental house where Anderson had last been seen. When detectives showed up at the school to investigate, they soon found Puff, Anderson’s cock­apoo that he took along with him the day he disappeared.
In the hours that followed, detectives, police officers and reservists searched the school grounds for additional evi­dence, after which they branched out and covered several square blocks of the neighborhood. At one point, Anderson’s second dog, Pixie, a golden Pomeranian, was spotted in the neighborhood and, after a lengthy effort, was captured by police. Other than that, no additional ev­idence was found, and there had been no sign of Anderson’s Thunderbird.
The efforts surrounding the new turn of events wasn’t entirely futile, howev­er, for the investigators now had nar­rowed their focus to a few square blocks of Southeast Portland. At this point, they theorized that Anderson had met his fate shortly after leaving the rental house and, although they were reluctant to talk about it publicly, some investigators speculated that his abductor and/or as­sailant may have even been waiting in his car when Ralph had finished with his Work at the rental house. This was, of course, mere speculation and would have to be confirmed through additional probing.
Knocking on doors throughout the area, making inquiries all the while about Ralph Anderson, the investigators were unable at this point to uncover anything new. As it turned out, residents saw or heard nothing the night Anderson disap­peared, and detectives were unfortunate­ly unable to pinpoint his movements af­ter he left the rental house. There was little doubt among sleuths at this point in the case, however, that Anderson met with foul play, but precisely when and by whom remained a mystery.
Meanwhile, a Southeast Portland tow­ing company was called to the home of a disgruntled resident of the 9400 block of Southeast Mount Scott Boulevard. The resident had complained of a car he dis­covered partially blocking his driveway after he returned home from an out-of- town trip. As it turned out, the car was a light blue 1977 Thunderbird. The car was hauled away to the towing compa­ny’s storage lot and, because of an inno­cent oversight, police were not notified of the tow. It is a requirement for towing companies to notify police when a car is impounded from public property so that the company can get a lien for the charges incurred. “The only penalty for not notifying police is not getting reim­bursed,” said a police official.
The fact that the towing company failed to notify police of the car proved to be only a minor setback for the detectives investigating Ralph Anderson’s disap­pearance. As it was, several days after the Thunderbird had been towed, in­vestigators began routinely calling tow­ing companies in the Southeast area. Af­ter several futile attempts, they discov­ered the location of Anderson’s car.
When the detectives arrived at the towing company’s storage lot, located in the 8600 block of Southeast Division Street, they were met by the manager and led immediately to the car’s location. It wasn’t until they were only a few feet from the car that they noticed the strong smell, the unmistakable odor of decay.
Reluctant to open the car’s trunk be­cause of what they feared was inside, the detectives nonetheless knew that it was their job, and they prepared for the worst by having their handkerchiefs ready to cover their mouths and noses. After all, it was by this time, Monday, February 4th. and if Anderson’s body was indeed inside the car’s trunk, as they believed it was, it was likely that he had been dead nearly two weeks and was severely de­composed.
When the car’s trunk was finally opened, the foul air gushed out; and there it was, a crumpled human corpse, leav­ing no further doubt as to the fate of Ralph Anderson. At this point, the miss­ing persons detectives closed the trunk’s lid, posted an officer as sentry, and noti­fied the homicide division of their grim, macabre discovery. From that point in the case, Portland Police Bureau Homi­cide Detectives Susan C. Hill and Tho­mas W. Nelson took over the investiga­tion and arrived at the scene only minutes after being notified.
The corpse was a ghastly sight, diffi­cult to look at and all the more difficult to touch. The body was clearly that of an elderly white male, but it was extremely swollen, bloated severely, and would be difficult, but not impossible, to identify visually. Although the detectives searched the corpse’s pockets for identi­fication, which was not present, they were careful not to move the body more than was absolutely necessary.
When the police. photographer first caught sight of the grotesquely bloated body, a feeling of nausea and near panic overcame him. His reaction was under­standable, for what was once a living human being was now a mass of rotting, smelly flesh. Although experienced at his job, most of his assignments had in­volved bodies that were still relatively “fresh.” But within a few moments, he conquered his own squeamishness and began photographing the body from all possible angles, and sighed with relief when the job was finally finished.
Photographs were taken, and then a deputy medical examiner arrived at the storage lot to make a preliminary exami­nation of the human remains. However, because of the body’s poor condition, it was impossible for him to immediately determine the victim’s cause of death. He informed the detectives that a thorough autopsy would reveal what had killed the man. He then gave his authorization to have the corpse transported to the Mult­nomah County morgue in Portland, where it would be combed for clues prior to the autopsy.
In the meantime, Ralph Anderson’s Thunderbird was towed to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab garage, where experienced technicians processed it for clues. After the examination of the car’s exterior had been completed, and photo­graphs and sketches had been duly re­corded, the outside of the vehicle was examined for latent fingerprints. The car’s trunk was examined first, then the top of the car and the hood, the door handles and the areas adjacent to them. Special attention was given to the win­dows and the outside mirrors. Several good prints were obtained, but their sig­nificance would not be known until the investigators compared the prints with those of the victim and any other persons who may have had access to the vehicle.
Next, the technicians began process­ing the car’s interior by first dividing it into specific areas for purposes of identi­fication. Then they photographed each area, being careful all the while not to disturb or otherwise contaminate the inte­rior, after which they vacuumed the inte­rior thoroughly. They then placed the material recovered into separate contain­ers which they identified according to the location from which it was obtained.
After the car had been systematically vacuumed, a search was made of the inte­rior for additional fingerprints. Good, identifiable prints were found on the steering wheel, dash and door handles, as well as on various other locations throughout the car and, as each latent print was developed, it was carefully lift­ed and/or photographed and marked with the investigator’s initials as well as the location from which it was obtained. Again, the investigators didn’t know the significance of the prints at this point.
A short time later, Ralph Anderson’s relative was escorted to the county morgue to make a positive identification. As she stood there in the austere cold room, looking at the body, a mute detach­ment overcame her, as if some awful parasite had attached itself to her soul. A feeling of emptiness as cold as ice seemed to overcome her, and she seemed to have temporarily cut herself off from time and space, and the rest of the world. Moments later, tears came to her eyes, which mag­nified and distorted the officials into a soft blur. Feeling utterly alone in the world, she began to whimper softly as she confirmed that the body was indeed An­derson’s.
Soon after the identification had been made, pathologists and toxicologists un­der the direction of Dr. Ronald O’Hallor­an, deputy state medical examiner, con­verged on the corpse and proceeded to conduct the autopsy, with O’Halloran de­scribing every action and every finding into a tape recorder’s microphone which hung overhead. Each of the victim’s vari­ous organs were weighed and their weights recorded.
Dr. O’Halloran determined that Ralph Anderson had died of asphyxiation by strangulation, and he had also sustained a beating. Although O’Halloran declined to publicly disclose the time of death, a source close to the investigation said it was presumed that Anderson had been killed the evening he disappeared.
In the meantime, detectives were hav­ing a tough time with their investigation and had no suspects in custody. Clues were scarce, and the ones they did have weren’t conclusive. To make matters worse, their investigation had been great­ly hampered by the length of time it had taken them to find Anderson’s body and car.
Even the fingerprints found inside his car turned out to be of little or no use at this point. Most of the prints turned out to be Anderson’s, but the few that weren’t his would only be useful after a suspect had been taken into custody and subsequently fingerprinted. General fin­gerprint files, such as those kept by the FBI, are arranged using a system that requires prints from all ten fingers. Sin­gle or even a few prints found at the scene of a crime usually can’t be easily checked unless, of course, the prints found are those of a known criminal, such as a kidnapper or a bank robber, in which case some major police depart­ments and federal law enforcement agen­cies maintain a single fingerprint file. But this is rare, and was clearly not the case here, ultimately leaving the detec­tives practically back at square one in their investigation of Anderson’s mur­der. The only progress they had really made in the case so far was finding his body, and the fact that it had taken them nearly two weeks to do so disheartened the investigators.
Days passed slowly as they checked every lead, but the outlook appeared even bleaker at each day’s end, leav­ing them always unable to trace Anderson’s movements beyond the rental house he owned. There was nothing at this point to link Anderson’s tenant to his death, but after they explored each avenue of investigation at their disposal, sleuths always ended up back at the rent- al house. Instinct and evidence, or rather, the lack of evidence, told them that Anderson had been robbed and killed by a stranger. But how, probers wondered, would a stranger have known that he was carrying money and credit cards? Did it all happen simply by unfortunate chance? The detectives didn’t think so.
During the course of the investigation, the detectives uncovered the fact that Anderson’s tenant at the rental house, 21-year-old Troy L. Stewart, had been behind in his rent, and when Anderson came to do repairs at the house on January 22nd, he also came to pick up the rent of $180. When the detectives initially talked with Stewart, he confirmed that Anderson had picked up the $180 in cash. But had he really picked up the money? The detectives had no evidence that Stewart had lied to them and, until they could prove otherwise, they simply had to take his word for it. They decided, however, to explore further the possibility of Stewart’s involvement. It was only a hunch, but the investigators nonethe­less decided to interview him again. Af­ter all, many cases have been solved by lawmen acting on a hunch.
When Detectives Susan Hill and Tho­mas Nelson arrived at Stewart’s resi­dence, they were led into an inadequately lighted room. They noted that the small house had an unhealthy reek about it and the windows were dusty and festooned with decaying cobwebs. In one corner of the living room stood a homemade book­case that contained a confused hur­ley-burley of cheap paperbacks, men’s magazines, and several record albums. None of the furniture matched, the detec­tives noted, and a solitary spring could be seen sticking up through the old smelly couch, which could be politely described as a relic. The furnishings were like something that Detective Hill had never seen before, furniture she never wished to see again.
As they questioned Stewart, who was wearing a T-shirt, jeans and nearly worn- out shoes, they kept their eyes reproach­fully on his face, which was covered with a medium growth of bristle. Stewart stuck to his original story and told the detectives just what he had told them before and nothing else. But there was something about his eyes during this in­terview that betrayed him, and sweat broke out on his forehead, even though it was cool inside the house. Obviously noticing Stewart’s sudden nervousness, the sleuths used this as leverage against him with the hope they could pressure him into making a slip. However, al­though veins at times bulged at his tem­ples during the interview, Stewart re­mained firm in his statements. If not for a few inconsistencies, which were not enough to make an arrest, he could have passed himself off as a master of straight-from-the-shoulder double-talk.
The detectives noted an unwholesome lack of emotion in Stewart’s demeanor at times, and he appeared to have a weak, though not necessarily lazy, mind. Un­sightly food stains on his clothes suggest­ed that he cared little about his personal appearance and they noted, behind his unhealthy pallor, that it was likely he used drugs and/or alcohol excessively. Although the probers sensed he was lying to them, they couldn’t prove it. Howev­er, before leaving, they informed Stewart that he was a suspect in Anderson’s mur­der and advised him not to leave town without first checking with the police department.
After narrowing their focus on Troy Stewart as a suspect, the detective ob­tained a court order to gather evidence from hidden tape-recording devices. Al­though the officials wouldn’t reveal where the devices were placed or what evidence had been obtained, apparently enough evidence was obtained to bring charges against Stewart, as he was arrest­ed at his residence by Detective Hill and Nelson shortly after the evidence had been obtained. At the time of his arrest, Stewart was also served with a warrant to search his residence.
As the investigators performed a me­thodical search, they were appalled by the filth. The kitchen was a dirty, wretch­ed mess, with a heap of days-old garbage piled up in one corner and dishes stacked to the ceiling. The house was also infest­ed with cockroaches.
Moving through the living room in search of clues, the investigators noticed that the carpet was stained and smelly, with a large hole worn through its center. The wallpaper was also loose in one cor­ner, and there were places where hand prints smudged the dreary, dirty walls. The apex of the investigators’ revulsion occurred in the bathroom when they gazed in wonder at the dark ring of filth that encircled the toilet. It looked like a biology experiment gone awry, quipped one investigator.
The house had been gone over thor­oughly, literally from top to bottom, but there was little of use to the investigators. Too much time had elapsed from the time of Anderson’s disappearance to the time of his body’s discovery for anything val­uable or uncontaminated to be recovered. The probers simply resigned themselves to the fact that they would have to rely on the evidence obtained through electronic surveillance.
A short time after Stewart’s arrest, a second individual, 17-year-old Eric C. Rise, was arrested for the murder of Ralph Anderson. As it turned out, Rise was already in custody at the Donald E. Long Juvenile Home on unrelated charges of assault, and his arrest for An­derson’s murder came about after addi­tional investigation by the detectives who worked on the case. Because Rise was a juvenile at the time of his arrest, detec­tives would not disclose any additional information.
In the meantime, Troy Stewart was indicted by a grand jury on charges of aggravated murder in the death of Ralph Anderson, and could have become the first defendant in Multnomah County to face Oregon’s new death penalty. Like­wise, the Multnomah County District At­torney’s Office filed a delinquency peti­tion charging Eric Rise with the adult equivalent of aggravated murder, after which he was indicted by a grand jury on the same charges and ordered to stand trial in Circuit Court.
In a move to avoid the possibility of receiving the death penalty, Troy Stew­art agreed to plead guilty to aggravated murder for the strangulation death of Ralph Anderson. When he appeared be­fore Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kristena LaMar, Stewart said he had been under the influence of ampheta­mines and alcohol when he killed and robbed Anderson. He told the judge that he didn’t remember much about the kill­ing, but he admitted that he knew it was likely that Anderson would die from his efforts. Stewart told the judge that he gets “depressed real easy,” and that he had been taking anti-depressant drugs while in jail. He said that the reason for Anderson’s death was “for his money.”
On Thursday, June 28, 1985, Judge LaMar sentenced Stewart to 20 years minimum in prison, and told him he would miss most of the productive years of his life. “I hope in 20 years you can change whatever violent behavior got you here today,” said Judge LaMar to the defendant.
On Wednesday, July 17, 1985, Eric C. Rise was convicted of murder by Judge LaMar at a hearing in which the defendant agreed not to contest the facts in the indictment against him, as part of negotiations with the district attorney’s office. Under the agreement, the state dropped the aggravated murder charges which could have resulted in a 20-year sentence if there was a conviction.
Rise told the judge that he had been under the influence of high potency diet pills at the time of Anderson’s death. “I was out for seven days before the crime occurred,” said Rise. Rise said he was a friend of Stewart’s and often went to Stewart’s residence to take pills and drink. Rise’s attorney, Lawrence Mata­sar, said there were “mitigating factors” which he would present to the parole board in an attempt to gain early release for his client, but Matasar did not reveal the factors in court.
Judge LaMar sentenced Rise to life in prison, but under a matrix system used by the parole board, Rise could be re­leased after serving 10 to 13 years. At the time of sentencing, Judge LaMar gave Rise an opportunity to make a statement.
“I’d like to apologize for my acts on January 22nd,” said Rise. “I’m not much of a speechmaker, but I apolo­gize.”

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