Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

On August 7, 1987, by1:00 a.m., the man who called himself Steve the gambler was back on Union Avenue, which was known as Portlands Prostitute Row, looking for some kinky action.

After a short cruise, he stopped a blonde near the corner of Northeast Union Avenue and Wygant Street. He recognized her as a hooker he'd picked up before during Portland's 1987 Rose Festival. She was a somewhat large woman but, from a distance, appeared attractive. She knew how to dress and held her weight well. He pulled over and invited her inside. Recognizing him as a former customer, the woman didn't hesitate.

No one, except for the john, knows the precise details of what happened between the couple from 1-3:00 a.m. But at some time prior to 3:00 a.m., they pulled into the parking lot of a Dennys restaurant on the 16200 block of Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard in Oak Grove, a Clackamas County suburb of Portland. With the taverns and bars having just closed, business was brisk there; it was the only restaurant open in the area at that time of the morning.

Michael Fielding, 32, who lived in an apartment nearby, had gone to bed a couple of hours earlier and was sleeping soundly when he suddenly heard the muffled screams of a woman in intense pain.

"Help me!" screamed the woman. "Please help me! Rape! I'm being raped!" As Fielding climbed out of bed and headed for the window that overlooked the parking lot, the screams became louder, no longer muffled. He arrived at the window in time to see a man run beneath a streetlight.

Moments earlier, James Dahlke, 50, had just arrived at Dennys. He was alone as he parked his 1983 Ford van and started walking toward the restaurant. He heard a woman yelling and screaming, but couldnt quite make out what she was saying. But he could see two human forms in the parking lot in the direction from which the screams had come. Although it was dark, he could see two people, a man and a woman, who appeared to be struggling with each other. After his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the parking lot, Dahlke could not believe what he saw. There, near the middle of the parking lot, lay a completely naked woman! A man was kneeling over her, but Dahlke could not immediately determine why.

Charles Gates, a handicapped customer, had just arrived and had barely situated himself in his wheelchair when he heard the screams. Already outside in the parking lot, he was on his way over to the woman, as was Dahlke. When the man kneeling over the woman saw Dahlke and Gates approaching, he jumped to his feet and ran in the opposite direction. Gates reached the woman first.

"My God! He slit her throat!" exclaimed Gates, falling from his wheelchair. Experienced in first aid and emergency medical treatment, Gates noted that the woman was not breathing and would not respond to questions. Finding no carotid pulse and undaunted by all of the blood, he immediately began CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

As a crowd gathered, Dahlke instructed restaurant personnel to call for medical and police help. Then he returned to the parking lot only to discover that Gatess gallant attempts had not revived the woman. Dahlke could see why. The woman was covered with blood and stab wounds.

A couple of minutes later, Dahlke again spotted the man he'd seen only moments before kneeling by the nude victim. The man was coming around the side of a building adjacent to the restaurant and was headed for a small foreign pickup parked nearby.

Thats him! Someone shouted. Thats the son-of-a-motherfucker!

By that time two other bystanders, Stan Conner and Richard Bergio, had rushed over to see what was happening. After learning of the incident, Conner and Bergio ran for their own vehicles. They attempted to block off the exits from the parking lot with their cars, but the man with the pickup drove out over the sidewalk.

Bergio, determined not to let the guy get away, sped out of the parking lot in his own car in hot pursuit of the pickup, which was by now heading south on McLoughlin Boulevard toward Gladstone. Bergio chased the pickup through Oak Grove and into nearby Gladstone, at times at speeds over 100 miles an hour. Then, Bergio got close enough to the pickup to copy down its license plate number. Satisfied that he'd done all that he could, Bergio gave up the chase and returned to the crime scene, where he now found a team of Clackamas County sheriff's deputies and a rescue team from the Oak Lodge Fire Department.

The rescuers valiantly tried to revive the woman, but to no avail. A short time later, she was loaded onto an ambulance and taken to Emanuel Hospital and Health Center in Portland, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, several deputies rounded up witnesses and took a statement from each.

Six of those interviewed said they'd heard the woman's screams for at least two minutes before her body was found. One of the witnesses, Michael Fielding, told the deputies how the woman's screams had awakened him.

It had sounded as though her screams had come from inside a closed vehicle, through the glass, at first, said Fielding, because her shrieks were muffled. She was obviously in intense pain and had cried out that she was being raped. When Fielding got to the window, though, all he saw was the man who ran beneath the streetlight.

"It was like a spotlight," said Fielding. "If he hadn't run underneath it, I wouldn't have seen anything." He told the deputies that he had gotten a good look at the man, and that he could likely recognize him if he saw him again.

Deputies found several articles of clothing not far from where the victim's body had lain. The clothing, believed to be hers, included blue jeans, a hooded blue sweatshirt with white trim, and a single tennis shoe. But, the deputies wondered, where was the other shoe?

No identification, either in the clothing or on the parking lot, was found. But after additional searching, the deputies found a double-length pair of shoelaces, tied together with loops at both ends, prompting some to speculate that the woman had been hogtied at one point.

 

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