by Doug Hawley
I’m a volunteer at
Ryon State Park, named after
an early settler, Aristotle Ryon. I’m a
two-way guy in that I edit the Ryon Newsletter and do physical work in the
park, getting rid of invasive species, improving the trails, and doing some
planting. I’m retired now and love
spending time in Ryon’s natural beauty. There’s always a chance that I might
see a coyote, an owl, or maybe a salamander. It is no surprise that this place
is so popular.
Recently, our executive
director asked me to
write a column in the newsletter about the most notorious episodes in our
history—two brutal murders about a year apart.
Each homicide stayed in the papers for weeks and caused visitors to
avoid the park at night and to only visit while accompanied.
After a bit of research
through old newspapers,
and interviews with police investigators, I came up with this:
There were a couple of things
in common about
the murders. Both occurred on an obscure dead end trail, Illana, where hardly
anyone goes, and even though it is not polite to speak ill of the dead, neither
of them were upstanding citizens.
Victim One was Charlie Talbot.
concluded that he was on the trail after dark because he had been excluded from
the park after repeatedly and illegally bringing his vicious dog, Caesar, off
leash to the park. Caesar was known to attack wildlife, people, and other dogs,
with impunity. Mr. Talbot was found with his head bashed in, after Caesar showed
up the next morning at park headquarters and led a ranger to the body where it
had been dragged, twenty feet off trail.
Victim Two was Chris Massey.
She, too, had been
excluded from the park because she had been caught digging up plants in the
park to take home. Her murder was even grislier. She was killed a year after
the first, in a similar location to where Mr. Talbot was found, but with her
head cut off by some sort of curved blade. She was easy to find because she had
told her daughter where she was going.
The park is in an
urban area with many entrances and no way to register those that enter the
park. Despite a plea to anyone in the metro area who had seen either of the
victims in the park on the day that they were killed, or anything suspicious,
there were no leads in either case. In both cases, there was no forensic
evidence— identifiable footprints or DNA. The two victims had nothing in common
except for being excluded from the park, so the police assumed that there was
no connection between the two crimes.
Neither murder has
I didn’t mention in
the article that no one checked
the shovel that I use. It wouldn’t have been a problem, anyway. I got a new
Nobody messes with
The author is a retired
volunteer who works in Tryon State Park (which is totally unrelated to Ryon
Park) and at the bookstore, Booktique. Then there is the snowshoeing, where he
took up Sasquatch Whispering, and hiking. He lives with editor Sharon and cat
Kitzhaber in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
His hobby writing has led to
about ninety publications, as indicated by https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/.
These scribblings include memoir, crime,
speculation, drama and the Vernonia Trilogy in AWS.