Crime Lab staffing issues slow murder investigation; DA gives updates on recent cases

Detectives have served 40 search warrants and have multiple suspects in a Bend double murder that’s gone unsolved since August, Deschutes County DA John Hummel said Wednesday.

Hummel said slim staffing at the Oregon State Crime Lab has slowed the progress into the death investigation of Raymond Atkinson Jr. and Natasha Newby.

Police performing a welfare check on August 15th discovered Newby, 29, and Atkinson, 34, dead inside their home at the corner of 12th and Greenwood Avenue.

Later that week, police announced they were investigating leads outside of Central Oregon, but no other information had been provided on the case until Wednesday.

Hummel said he believed the couple was targeted so there was no threat to the community.

But he had no comment on where the suspects might be or their relationship to the victims.

The murder investigation was part of an update Wednesday from Hummel on several recent high-profile cases being handled by the district attorney’s office.

Other cases Hummel discussed Wednesday include a shooting in Drake Park in November.

He said the victim, Jordan Thorn, was recovering well in the hospital, and charges are expected against a suspect soon.

The investigation continues in a fatal multi-vehicle crash on the Bend Parkway near the Colorado Avenue on ramp last month.

The crash, which started after a a BMW, driven by 39-year-old Jonathan Short of Bend, had merged onto the highway and into the left lane, where he struck a Chevrolet pickup driven by 47-year-old Kevin Schultz of Bend.

Schultz’s car crossed the center median into the southbound lane, where it hit a van driven by 37-year-old Christopher Rodea.

Rodea sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two more southbound vehicles and one more northbound vehicle were also involved in the crash, although none of those drivers or passengers were seriously injured.

Hummel said they have found two surveillance videos he calls “key” to the investigation.

They’re also downloading the computer systems from the cars involved to evaluate.

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A charging decision is expected soon in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run in Redmond Nov. 23rd.

Leroy Hall, 90, was hit first by a maroon 2018 GMC Yukon and hit again by a second vehicle, according to police.

The driver of the Yukon, 19-year-old Anthony Vasquez, left the scene while the driver of the second vehicle remained on the scene, police said.

Police found the Yukon nearby a short time later.

Vasquez was arrested and taken to the Deschutes County Jail on multiple charges including first-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, felony hit-and-run and DUII.

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Additionally, the investigation continues into an alleged assault on Bend’s west side in early August.

Giovanni Ortego was found bloodied on the side of the road, but he doesn’t remember the assault.

Hummel said Ortego’s last known location was the D&D Bar downtown, but there’s no helpful surveillance on the route to where he was found.

He said the case was a dead end unless the public was able to provide new, helpful information.

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