Friday, August 10, 2012

Perry Lovejoy

Mount Hood
The Mount Hood National Forest is a dense myriad of trees covering several thousand square miles in central to northwestern Oregon, and, when and where it is legal, can be a hunter’s paradise. Abounding with wild­life amid the towering Douglas fir trees and majestic Mount Hood looming over­head through an occasional clearing, the forest is not only naturally beautiful but can be somewhat treacherous as well, due, mainly, to the vast size and the ease with which many inexperienced hunters and hikers get lost every year. Most make it out alive, but once in a while others die from exposure before making their way to safety or being rescued. What’s worse, however, is that the forest is occasionally used as a dumping ground for murder victims…
Saturday, September 4, 1982 was hot and dry and, had it not been for the shad­ing effect of the sky-reaching trees, the bird hunter walking through a remote section of the Mount Hood national Forest would have felt the scorching rays of the burning sun. It was arid, all right, the hunter reflected, as he tramped across parched twigs and ferns, but the heat was nothing in the forest compared to what it was under the wide open skies. He paused momentarily for a swig of cool water from the canteen he had strap­ped to his side, and wiped the sweat from his forehead. All in all, it would have been a good day for the hunter, in spite of the heat, had it not been for the dead body he nearly stumbled over while stalking his quarry.
The bird hunter took several quick steps backward, eyes wide, staring in disbelief. But after getting over the ini­tial shock and fear, regaining some of his composure, the hunter went back to the quickly decomposing corpse for a closer look.
It was a ghastly sight, now bloated and emitting a sickening stench caused by putrefaction. The body was clearly that of a man, lying face down on the dry ground. A rather large, crusty, rust- brown patch, consisting of a combination of dried blood and brain tissue, could be seen on one side of the dead man’s head. If the presence of the bloating and revolt­ing odor of decomposition weren’t enough, the sight was made all the more ugly and unnerving by the loathsome pre­sence of several large blow flies deposit­ing their eggs inside the dead man’s wounds. At this sight, the hunter turned and ran hastily to his truck and sped away.
He had to drive several miles before he reached a telephone, a drive which only took half an hour but seemed an eternity under the circumstances. But soon the man had notified the Oregon State Police of his grisly discovery and, because the body was found within the boundaries of Clackamas County, the OSP was duty-bound to notify the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department. The hun­ter was told to stay where he was until a trooper had arrived, at the rural location from which the hunter had been lucky to find a phone. The two then proceeded to the location of the corpse.
Half an hour later, the trooper and the bird hunter turned right onto Wildcat Creek Road, near Mount Hood, and drove about three miles into the forest. They parked and walked to the location of the dead man, approximately 20 feet from the road. After confirming the hun­ter’s macabre discovery, the state troop­er returned to his car and called in his findings to his dispatcher.
While the two waited for additional help to arrive, the trooper made notes of his observations and of his inquiries to the hunter. When the bird hunter took a cigarette from the pack in his shirt pock­et, the trooper informed him that it wasn’t a good idea to smoke at the scene of a crime for fear of confusing investi­gators by adding unnecessary items such as matches, ashes, and butts to the site, or by even inadvertently destroying evi­dence crucial to the investigation.
Within an hour and a half, Wildcat Creek Road was crawling with cops and the necessary support personnel from Portland and Oregon City. First, addi­tional troopers had arrived to help cor­don off the area and, since this was an obvious homicide, they weren’t taking any chances on losing any evidence that might be present by allowing reporters or curious passersby behind police lines. In fact, the hunter was the only person aside from police and support personnel who was permitted inside the boundaries of the sealed off area, as he had to show police precisely how he’d discovered the dead body.
Next, several state police crime lab technicians converged on the area to be­gin photographing the corpse and the surrounding area in preparation for pro­cessing the site for clues. Shortly after­ward, two detectives from the Oregon State Police arrived, as did a detective and his assistant from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department, since the body was found in his jurisdiction.
After a brief interview with the hun­ter, the detectives immediately began to record the physical characteristics pre­sent at the crime site, using extreme cau­tion as they walked in the vicinity of the body to protect any evidence that might be there. They noted the convoluted position of the body as a rough sketch was drawn, as well as the size and loca­tion of the victim’s head wound. They also noted the presence of dried blood­stains, and the fact that no weapon or spent cartridges were in the vicinity of the body. If the victim had been killed on the spot, the cops reasoned, the killer or killers had cleaned up prior to leaving.
“Whoever did this sure wanted him dead,” said one of the cops as he pointed out the fact that the victim had been shot at close range. “This was no accident.” He noted the flaccidity of the victim’s body, an indication that rigor mortis had already come and gone. And, due to the horrible stench and sever bloating, it was reasonable to assume that the victim had been dead for several days. The detective examined the body carefully, noting that there were no other obvious wounds, and checked the victim’s clothing pockets for identification. There was none.
A man from the Clackamas County medical examiner’s office examined the body and reported to detectives that the victim had died from one or more bullets fired at close range into the side of the head, the caliber of said bullets as yet unknown. Because of the severe condi­tion of the body due to decomposition, the medical examiner said it would be difficult to determine age at this point. He said that it was likely the victim died instantly, and had been dead for at least a week, possibly longer. With his observa­tions of the rotting corpse legibly re­corded, the medical examiner reasoned that little else could be ascertained at this point, and decided this next step would be to fingerprint the corpse when it ar­rived at the morgue, following that macabre procedure as soon as possible by a thorough autopsy. If the corpse had not been identified by then, he should be able to estimate the victim’s age by the condi­tion of his various internal organs.
While a police photographer was finishing up, the homicide sleuths in­terrogated the hunter once again. He re­peated his story to the detectives, leaving out not even a single detail of how he discovered the gunshot victim. Next, the probers conferred briefly with the crime lab personnel and the man from the medical examiner’s office, comparing notes and professional opinions, and then had the nameless body removed to the Clackamas County morgue in Oregon City where the autopsy would be per­formed by Dr. John Schilke.
Meanwhile, detectives, deputies, and crime lab technicians stayed behind to comb the area thoroughly for clues, hop­ing to find something, anything, signifi­cant that might identify their dead man and subsequently lead them to the killer. They split up into groups and began a sector search of the area, a method in which individual searchers are assigned lanes of a designated width by those in charge of the investigation. Once they had gone over the entire area of their assigned lanes, searchers traded places with each other as an attempt to prevent the loss of any evidence which might have been missed by a searcher for the first time around. But after hours of sear­ching, investigators had little more than an unidentified body on their hands, still unsure if the victim had been killed on the spot or at a different location and subsequently dumped at the remote forest site just west of Mount Hood.
The scarcity of clues in the case, however, prompted some cops to theo­rize that the victim had been killed at a different location, only to be dumped later in the forest. However, they couldn’t rule out the possibility that the perpetrator might have cleaned up after himself, particularly since it was likely that his actions in this remote area would go unseen and there would not necessari­ly be a need to rush away. Whatever the case, crime lab technicians took soil and blood samples from the crime site, although it was doubted by most that the samples would add anything significant to the case.
Regardless of their evidence, the cops knew that before their investigation could develop very far they first had to identify the dead man in order to estab­lish a solid starting point. With this in mind and no one else to interrogate, the homicide men and crime lab technicians packed up their equipment and headed back to the city to witness the task of fingerprinting the corpse, the import­ance of which can readily be seen.
For example, when relatives and ac­quaintances make or attempt to make a visual identification of a corpse it some­times turns out to be erroneous, perhaps because of the condition the body was in when viewed. In cases such as this, where a homicide or accident victim has no fingerprint file, fingerprinting can still prove to be useful. Positive identi­fication is often obtained by lifting latent prints from the victim’s home or other personal property, such as a car, and are later compared with those of the uniden­tified corpse. The catch is, of course, that a tentative identification must first be made. Unfortunately, however, all that Clackamas County and Oregon State Police detectives had to work with at this point was a body.
It is interesting to note that in the five- year period from 1978-82, there were 41 murders committed in Clackamas Coun­ty, including that of this latest unidenti­fied victim. Not an alarming number, one might say, for an entire county, par­ticularly when comparing the numbers of murders committed in America’s cities. But considering that much of this county is rural, 41 murders over five years is enough to cause concern, espe­cially among the county officials. Of the 41 murders committed, 15 remain un­solved.
“The increase in murders is a sign of the times,” says Clackamas County Dis­trict Attorney James O’Leary. “The economy is having an effect on people, and the population increase affects crime in general, including murder.
“Of the 26 murders in which a defen­dant was convicted or is awaiting trial,” continued O’Leary, “more than half of those were drug-related.” O’Leary also pointed out that more than one third of the murder victims found inside the boundaries of Clackamas County were from Portland and, if Lake Oswego and Milwaukee were included as urban areas of Portland, more than half of the murder victims were from within the entire met­ropolitan area. O’Leary added that the rural nature of Clackamas County en­couraged murderers to bring their vic­tims there to use as a disposal site.
“This is a rural community,” said O’Leary, “and lends itself toward being a dumping ground for Multnomah Coun­ty violence (Portland lies within the boundaries of Multnomah County.) You don’t find the isolated locales to dispose of people in Multnomah County the way you do in Clackamas County.” O’Leary pointed out that in the cases that have been solved, nearly all of the murders were committed by someone the victim knew, such as a lover, a relative or a friend, as opposed to the most difficult type to solve, stranger-against-stranger homicides.
Adding to the overall problem of crime in Clackamas County are the re­cent 25 percent budget cuts resulting in staff reductions which, in turn, results in prosecution reductions. “Once we know what’s going to be left in the budget,” says O’Leary, “then we can sit down and determine what we’re going to do in terms of prosecutions. It’s throwing a tremendous load on us, but, of course, it’s murders (that will be prosecuted) above all else. It’s tough.”
Meanwhile, the detectives and their assistants began the tedious task of sort­ing through the piles and piles of missing person reports filed from around the state, categorizing them first according to locale, then singling out those reports which listed the missing as having been within close proximity of Portland at the time of their disappearance. But the cops’ combined efforts seemed in vain, as little or no progress was made while they drudged on through the seemingly endless piles of reports.
In the meantime, a fingerprint techni­cian at the Clackamas County morgue commenced the somewhat morbid task of fingerprinting the unidentified corpse, now lying in a grim-looking room on a cold, stainless steel slab. He was obviously experienced, and in a matter of minutes, the technician had a full set of the victim’s fingerprints.
A short time later, an autopsy was per­formed by Dr. Schilke, who described his every action from the first long inci­sion from the neck to the groin to the loose and wide coroner’s stitches used in sewing up the victim — into a microphone hanging overhead.
The autopsy revealed few significant clues, and Dr. Schilke merely verified what the detectives already knew: The man had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head, fired at very close range. The medical examiner did, however, place the victim’s age at between 25-30 years old, his conclusions based on the outer, as well as the inner, characteristics and basic condition of the victim’s remains, particularly organs. He placed the time of death at a week to 10 days. Although Dr. Schilke confirmed that the victim’s death was a homicide, he refused to say (to reporters) what caliber of slug was reco­vered or how many times the victim had been shot. He referred all questions to Lt. John Downey of the Oregon State Police, who remained tight-lipped about the case.
Everyone working on the case did agree, however, that in spite of the lack of information, the medical examiner’s estimation of the victim’s age did at least narrow the gap for detectives going through missing person reports, but there were still plenty within the 25-30 age group to sort through.
In light of the increase in murders in Clackamas County recently, not to men­tion numerous burglaries and other crimes such as rape and exhibitionism, crime watch organizations have been springing up in neighborhoods all over the county. Since 1977, more than 40 neighborhoods have set up crime watch organizations, said Deputy Neil James, assigned to the Clackamas County sher­iff’s Crime Prevention Unit.
Dividing themselves into units or sec­tors, crime watch organizations are de­signed to “observe and report” what they see from their homes’ windows or from night patrols in cars. Using citizen band radios, they report suspicious per­sons who don’t belong in the area to a central command center, which relays the information to the sheriff’s depart­ment for appropriate action. The orga­nizations really worked, and have pre­vented crimes, and they work simply because they are about people helping people.
“It’s back to the basics. Instead of being so self-centered, your lives be­come centered on your neighbors as well, and you do what you can do to help them,” said one crime watch partici­pant. “Now, instead of going forty miles an hour, I slow down when I’m driving through, and I really look at my neigh­bors and at the neighborhood. I know who is there and what is going on. I feel close to the people here now. Life is slower. We care more.”
While off duty one evening, driving through a crime watch neighborhood in his own car, Clackamas County Sher­iff’s Deputy Dan Fine stopped in front of a house to test the system out. “Watch­ing a house nearby,” he said, “I saw a curtain move. Then another curtain moved in a house down the street. It took less than thirty seconds for people to determine and report that I didn’t belong in their neighborhood. That is what a crime watch is all about, looking out for your neighbors and reporting anything suspicious that you might see to the sher­iff’s department. By acting as eyes and ears to supplement the deputy on patrol, be­cause he is only one person and you are twenty, you can actually help reduce crime in your neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, back at state police head­quarters in Portland and only moments before authorities were to begin the te­dious process of attempting to identify the dead man by matching his finger­prints and teeth to one of the fingerprint files and dental charts of a narrowed down list of those men listed as missing, the cops miraculously received a call from a worried relative in Portland who wanted to file a missing person report.
The trooper on, duty took down in­formation about 25-year-old Herbert Eugene Weed, who reportedly was mis­sing on or about August 26, 1982, nine days before the body was discovered in Mount Hood National Forest. The rela­tive reported that Weed had been mis­sing from his home, and the relative told the trooper that he had been told earlier that he must wait 72 hours or more be­fore a missing person report could be filed, the usual waiting period to give the missing person time to return home or contact relatives. Aware of the pending homicide investigation that detectives were working on, the state trooper wasted no time in relaying the informa­tion about Weed.
The description the detectives re­ceived of Weed fit pretty accurately with that of the murder victim, but they couldn’t be absolutely certain until a de­ntal and fingerprint comparison was made, scheduled as soon as possible. As it turned out, the results of the compari­sons were positive, confirming the lucky break for the cops. On September 5, 1982, the murder victim found lying in the Mount Hood National Forest with a bullet hole in his head was positively identified as Herbert Eugene Weed.
Born November 9, 1956 in Portland, Oregon, Weed was married and had a son, as well as several other relatives throughout the Portland area. Noting that relatives are a good place to start asking questions in a homicide case such as this, where little is known about the victim, detectives set about the task of tracking down his kin.
After talking with several of the dead man’s relatives, the cops learned that he was a self-employed auto mechanic and had been for some time. On the day of his disappearance, no one knew what his plans were or where he had gone. It was simply thought that he must have been doing some work for someone. He had no known enemies, not even a dissatis­fied customer, and none of his family could imagine why anyone would want him dead. Still at square one with only a dead body on their hands, the cops de­cided to check out his place of residence in the hope that some kind of clue would turn up.
When the cops arrived at Weed’s home in the 13900 block of Southeast Rhone Street in Portland, they noted that the yard was grown up considerably. Pulling into the gravel driveway, they could see that it was a small run-down house badly in need of a paint job and hadn’t had much attention for quite some time. The drapes were drawn and the windows were closed and, the cops noted as they walked slowly around the one-story dwelling, there were no signs of any forced entry. A few minutes later, one of the victim’s relatives arrived and let the detectives inside the house.
Once inside, they carefully observed the layout of the house, making notes as they went along. Next, they paid more attention to detail hoping to find a clue, no matter how minute, that might direct them toward a suspect. It was a difficult chore, to say the least, particularly since they had no idea what they were looking for. They took considerable time, nonethe­less, carefully going through Weed’s personal belongings and papers, writing down names and phone numbers of any­one who might be able to give them some information they could use.
Oregon State Police and Clackamas County sleuths now hit the sidewalks in pursuit of any information that would lead them to people young Weed had known socially or perhaps even done business with, but their efforts seemed fruitless. They contacted several of Weed’s neighbors, as well as all known friends and business associates, and made inquiries that ultimately led them nowhere.
When the case seemed to have reached its lowest point, one of Weed’s relatives offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could provide any information that would lead the authorities to the killer. To en­courage anyone to come forward with information, the reward offer stipulated that the tipster could remain anonymous and still claim the money. But in the days that followed, it began to look as if there would be no takers.
In an unusual turn of events, one of the detectives working on the case announced a theory he developed in which Weed had been kidnapped, driven to the remote forest location, and shot to death for unknown reasons. The cop would not give substantiating information concerning his theory, though, and would only say that it was the result of a lead he had followed up on.
In spite of the announced lead, offi­cials of the Oregon State Police and the Clackamas County district attorney’s office remained tight-lipped about details of the homicide case, as is usually the case when they are getting close to nail­ing a suspect. Neither State Police Lt. John Downey nor Les Worley, the chief investigator for the district attorney’s office, would reveal the type of gun used in the shooting or whether a gun had, in fact, been recovered. Downey said he didn’t know if Weed was shot at the scene or if he had been killed at a different location and dumped there. Downey also said that the Clackamas County district attorney’s office instructed him not to give out certain information for fear of jeopardizing the case. Downey did say, however, that several suspects were being investigated in the murder, but would not reveal whether the suspects were acquainted with Weed.
The next day, the cops received an anonymous phone call from someone who said he knew Weed, and knew that he had been murdered. The caller would not say how he knew Weed, and refused to respond when asked if he had anything to do with the crime or if he knew anyone who was involved, as if he wasn’t hear­ing the questions being asked. He denied knowing about the reward money, but gave the cops some useful information which helped shorten their leg work.
“I saw these two guys, you know,” the caller told a detective over the phone.
One of them was driving Weed’s car. He was driving it up Union Avenue on the near east side of town. He parked it and got on a motorcycle with another man and left, as if they were abandoning it.”
“When did this rendezvous occur?” “It was on August 26th.” The day Weed disappeared.
“Where on Union Avenue did the man park the car, and which way did they go when they left on the motorcy­cle?” asked the detective.
“I think it was in the seven or eight hundred block of Union Avenue. He parked the car on the south bound side, and they headed south on Union. Might have turned left and headed east because I lost sight of them, but I can’t be sure about that. “
“Did you know either of the two men?”
“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Hey, look, I don’t want to get in too deep.”
“Look,” said the cop. “We really appreciate your help in this matter, but it would help us a good deal more if you could supply us with the names of these two men.” While the cop was on the subject of names, he pressed the caller a little further. “It would even help us if you gave us your name and number, so we could get in touch later and have you try to identify these characters when we pick them up.”
“No way, man! I’ve probably already said too much as it is. I’ll call back if I want to say anything else.” Before the cop could utter another syllable, the cal­ler hung up.
The detective immediately sent a cruiser to the Union Avenue location to check out the caller’s story to determine if Weed’s car was, in fact, there. In a matter of minutes the officer radioed in for the license number of Weed’s car, which he quickly obtained from the De­partment of Motor Vehicles. Half an hour later, the officer found the car in the 700 block of Northeast Union Avenue, just where the caller had said a man had abandoned it. He called in his findings to homicide, and the detective told him to stay put and guard the car. He would be there shortly along with technicians from the crime labs.
When the detective arrived at the loca­tion where Weed’s car was found, he instructed crime lab technicians to go over it thoroughly for prints and various other samples. Afterward, not revealing if there was any evidence of foul play, the car was towed to the state police crime lab garage, where it would be gone over from top to bottom, inside and out.
The next day, in a surprise move, de­tectives went to the home of 21-year-old Perry Ellis Lovejoy, which was an apart­ment at a dog kennel in the east county. Lovejoy was arrested there and charged with the murder of Herbert Weed. Clackamas County Sheriff Paul McAl­lister declined comment about the arrest, but a spokesman for the Oregon State Police said it was the result of an anonymous tip.
Lovejoy was taken to an interrogation room after being read his rights, where he unhesitatingly told detectives that another man was involved in Weed’s murder as well. He told the cops he wanted to deal and, wanting to nail the other suspect, the DA’s office agreed. Lovejoy sang like a canary when told he could plead guilty to manslaughter in return for his testimony against the other suspect, instead of being charged with murder. Lovejoy named 25-year-old William Robert Graber Jr. as the other suspect.
Police went to Graber’s home in the 5400 block of Southeast Raymond Street in Portland to make the arrest, but learned that he was at work at a grocery store he owned. Police then went to the Pleasant Valley Market, located in the 18800 block of Southeast Foster Road, and nabbed Graber, charging him with Weed’s murder.
Graber was quickly in­dicted by a Clackamas County grand jury on the murder charges, and both suspects were held in the Clackamas County Jail. In addition to murder charges, Graber was charged with felony murder and first degree kidnapping.
Well-known Portland defense attor­ney Wendell Birkland, who recently de­fended multiple killer William Perry Jackson, was retained to defend Graber at his trial, to be held in the courtroom of Clackamas County Judge Charles Sams. During pre-trial motions, Birkland asked Sams to order the district attorney’s office to negotiate “in the same fashion” as it did in the case of Lovejoy. However, Prosecutor Jonathan Haub said he objected to negotiating with Graber.
“We felt there were good and valid reasons for treating Graber differently,” said Haub, who would not elaborate on his reasons. However, after lengthy de­lays and grueling negotiations, Graber also was allowed to plead guilty to charges of first-degree manslaughter in­stead of going to trial on the original charges of murder, felony murder and first-degree kidnapping. No motive for the senseless killing was ever established.
Lovejoy and Graber were both given 20 years in prison for killing Herbert Weed. Actual time served will be determined by the state parole board.

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