Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

As Oregon lawmen drew a bead on this violent wacko, they found out that he preferred prostitutes as his prey, had an appetite for kinky sex, and liked to start things rolling with vodka and orange juice. During the course of their investigation they also learned that he was Oregon's worst serial killer to date, a murderer whose blood lust knew no bounds.

July 7, 1987, a Tuesday, was another hot, sultry summer day in Oregon. Heather Brown, 31, a prostitute, had worked the night before in her area along Portland's Union Avenue, a high-crime area dominated by prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers. Several other hookers had been in place that night, but despite the others, Heather, dressed in a skintight outfit that left nothing to the imagination, never had to wait long for a customer to come along. It had been a busy night for her, and as a result she had slept in until nearly noon.

When she climbed out of bed, she reached for her pack of cigarettes but found that it was empty. Needing a smoke, she left her two small children with her roommate and began walking toward a nearby 7-Eleven store, again dressed in the skintight outfit that she had worn the night before. About halfway to the store, a man in a blue Nissan pickup stopped and offered her a ride. Figuring that she could make a few quick bucks, Heather accepted and climbed inside. The driver headed out of the city toward a wooded area known as the Molalla forest.

The Molalla Forest (Clackamas County Sheriff's Dept.)
The Molalla Forest (Clackamas County
Sheriff's Dept.)

The "john" introduced himself as Steve, and explained that he was a professional gambler from Nevada. They drove along for some time, and at one point stopped at a convenience store so that Heather could buy a pack of cigarettes and a Coke and so that "Steve" could purchase a six-pack of beer. Afterward they continued driving until they reached the wooded area, when their conversation turned to business. He said that he was going to drive into the hills, and that he wanted to "tie someone up and f*** them." He moved to touch her thigh, but she pushed his hand away and demanded that he take her back to Portland. However, he refused and turned off onto an unpaved logging road where he sped up to about forty miles per hour.

Heather grabbed her shoes off of the floor, ready to make a break for it when the time was right. But the john caught her eyeing the door handle, and he reacted instantly. He swerved the pickup recklessly, so she would lose her sense of balance, and reached toward her, placing his hand over her chest to prevent her from jumping out of the truck. He then stepped on the accelerator and was soon speeding to more than sixty miles per hour. Nearly out of her mind with fear, Heather struggled violently and managed to break free of the man's hold. In one swift move she opened the door and jumped from the speeding truck. The john slowed his vehicle a little but, apparently aware that a log truck was close behind, kept on going.

When the logger rounded the curve, he saw Heather lying in the road and slammed on his brakes. Seeing that she was injured and grateful that he hadn't hit her, he helped her into the cab of his rig. One of her eyes was bleeding, which he helped her to cover, and she had other scrapes and cuts. She told the logger that she had to jump out of the man's pickup because she feared that he was planning to kill her. Since she was obviously very shaken up, the logger didn't probe her with questions. Instead, he arranged to have her driven to a medical clinic in Molalla, where it was determined that she had suffered a concussion and multiple abrasions to her left temple area, right forearm, and hand.

Detective John Turner (King)
Detective John
Turner (King)

The matter was reported to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department and was written up as case number 87-20998. The incident report would become the first clue of the horror that was already well underway to veteran Detective John Turner, 44, a distinguished-looking man of Anglo-Saxon descent.

Turner had no way of knowing it yet, but the evil outrage that was taking its toll on Portland's streetwalkers would virtually consume his life for much of the next two years and would eventually lead him to the most vicious and remorseless killer with whom he had ever dealt or would likely ever face again.

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