Homeless Camp Eviction

There’s a property east of Redmond where, at one time, hundreds of homeless campers were squatting. The last remaining campers left the property Tuesday after the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office issues an eviction notice on Monday.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan was on the scene when land owners surveyed what was left behind.

Remembering Rhett Larsen

Bend Fire Celebrates the Life of One of Their Own

It was a sign of respect for one of their own as Bend Fire Department vehicles traveled down Highway 97, escorting the body of fellow firefighter Rhett Larsen, who died in a motorcycle accident on Saturday.

39-year-old Larsen was returning from Portland when a bear ran out in front of his motorcycle. Larsen collided with the bear and was thrown into on coming traffic. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the life and legacy of Larsen and how the community is already stepping up to help.

The Kozowski Files

Sheriff’s Office Talks to Central Oregon Daily About Termination if Former Deputy

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Oregon is the defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by former deputy,Eric Kozowski. Kozowski alleges that the department retailiated against him for running in the 2016 election against Sheriff L. Shane Nelson.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan sat down with a member of the Sheriff’s Office to talk about the hundreds of pages of documents the department released to support its termination of Kozowski.

Custody of Baby Bradley Awarded to Maternal Grandmother

A Deschutes County judge decided to dismiss the custody case surrounding a one-year-old West Virginia boy who was found naked in the woods south of Bend on May 10 and grant custody back to his grandmother.
Mellisa Jordan is expected to be reunited with her grandson, Bradley Thomas, sometime tomorrow, nearly three weeks after a Deschutes County Sheriff’s detective found Bradley naked and suffering from hypothermia after a six-hour search off China Hat Road.
Mellisa and her daughter, Lindsie, flew to Bend two weeks ago to try to bring Bradley back home and help Bradley’s mother, Katelin, recover from injuries she says she suffered at the hands of Bradley’s father, Brandon Blouin. Blouin is still in the Deschutes County Jail facing criminal charges of criminal mistreatment, child neglect and custodial interference.
The family plans to head back to West Virginia and since custody was awarded to Jordan, mother Katelin will not be able to leave the house alone with Bradley unless the custody agreement changes in the future.

Body Found May Be Missing Bend Woman

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Oregon are on the scene of a body found east of Bend off Highway 20 on Friday night. The Sheriff’s Office is waiting for the medical examiner to confirm the identity of the body, but Sheriff L. Shane Nelson said the initial investigation has lead him to believe it is the body of Sara Gomez. Gomez has been missing since February 20. Her former boyfriend, Bryan Penner, was arrested in connection with Gomez’s disappearance after blood and ropes were found in his apartment. Penner died in March after attempting suicide while incarcerated in the Deschtues County Jail.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office released this statement on Saturday:

On May 26, 2018, at about 07:49 hours, Deschutes County 911 received a call from a hiker who reported finding what he believed to be a human body wrapped up in a tarp while hiking yesterday afternoon about 21 miles east of Bend.  A sheriff’s office sergeant responded to the area and confirmed the contents of the tarp were human remains.  Detectives from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Bend Police Department responded and began a joint investigation with the assistance of the Deschutes County Medical Examiner, Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory and Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. 

During the investigation, a drone, piloted by a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer was used to help document the scene.  Based on the investigation, it is believed the remains are likely that of Sara Gomez but investigators are awaiting confirmation of the deceased’s identity from the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office, which may take several weeks.

Sheriff Nelson expressed, “Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, D.A. John Hummel and I believe that this is the body of Sara Gomez, but it will take the conclusion of the Medical Examiner’s investigation to confirm the identity of the human remains. Our thoughts and prayers have been with Ms. Gomez’s family since her disappearance and if the remains are determined to be her, our hope is it will bring her family some closure.” 

This investigation is continuing and more information will be released as it becomes available. 

The Kozowski Files

Deschutes County Sheriff Responds to Federal Lawsuit from Former Deputy

Former Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Kozowski filed a formal complaint in federal court against both the county and Sheriff L. Shane Nelson last February, citing retaliation, whistleblowing and wrongful discharge.

On Friday, Sheriff Nelson released his official answer that was filed in federal court.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has details on the sheriff’s response.

Take a Knee

Police Brutality and Racial Profiling Protests Hit Close to Home

A Madras teenager says Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players were an inspiration for his recent protest of police brutality and racial profiling during the National Anthem at an assembly at Madras High School. His protest came only a few weeks before the NFL officials announced they would be requiring players to stand during the National Anthem or the entire team would be fined.

Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton and Anyssa Bohanan have more on the NFL’s decision and why one Central Oregon teen chose to take a knee.

Active Threat Training

Ten people, two teachers and eight students, were shot and killed in a high school in Santa Fe, Texas on Friday when 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire in Santa Fe High School. The shooting is the 22nd school shooting this year that involved injuries or fatalities.

While the events that unfolded on Friday are tragic, authorities say it could’ve been worse if not for the two armed resource offices inside the school who engaged with Pagourtzis.

Instances like the one in Santa Fe are the reason that emergency responders prepare themselves with active shooter trainings like the one at Sisters High School on Saturday.

Deschutes County first responders, including Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire, U.S. Forest Service and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, all participated in the drill. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the training.

Blouin Indicted on Felony Charges

Brandon Blouin, the 25-year-old Ohio man who was arrested after the disappearance and frantic search for his one-year-old son, was back in court on Monday on felony charges. In court on Monday Blouin was indicted on a felony charge of possessing body armor. That is on top of charges of child neglect, abandonment of a child, endangering the welfare of a minor, and custodial interference –which he was indicted on in court last week. Blouin will remain in Deschutes County Jail and is scheduled to enter a plea for these charges on June 11.

After the frantic search for one-year-old Bradley Michael Thomas on May 10, Blouin was taken to the hospital and then booked into jail on May 12.

In attendance at Monday’s hearing was Bradley’s mother Katelin Thomas, Bradley’s grandmother Mellisa Jordan and Bradley’s aunt Lindsie Thomas. The was the first time Katelin had seen Blouin since Bradley’s disappearance and the first time Mellisa and Lindsie had seen him since a protection order was granted last October.

Katelin and her mother were visibly upset when Blouin appeared on the screen in the courtroom. Katelin has alleged that Blouin had threatened to hurt her family and had abused both her and Bradley as they traveled from West Virginia to Oregon.

Mellisa, Bradley’s grandmother said she hopes to take her daughters and her grandson home so they can be a family again. Bradley is currently in a foster home.

Family of Baby Bradley Testifies to Grand Jury

The mother, grandmother and aunt of one-year-old Bradley Micheal Thomas, the child found in the woods near China Hat Road in Bend late last week, testified Wednesday at the Deschutes County Circuit Court.

The family’s testimony may lead to more changes against Brandon Blouin, the biological father of Bradley. Blouin already has a number of charges against him related to the disapearence and subsequent search for Bradley.

Bradley’s mother, 19-year-old Katelin Thomas, alleges that Blouin abused Bradley and her and forced them to leave their home in West Virginia.