Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 6/29 – Family Still Seeking Help Since Lane County Resident Fauna Frey Went Missing in Grants Pass Two Years Ago, Eugene Police Seek Public’s Help To Find Suspect in Acid Attacks

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Family Still Seeking Help Since Lane County Resident Fauna Frey Went Missing in Grants Pass Two Years Ago

The family of a Lane County woman who went missing in Josephine County is still working hard to make sure there is information kept out to the public leading to her return. None of this would happen if it weren’t for the efforts of people in the community who have stepped up to make sure Fauna Frey isn’t forgotten, and to bring light to the many people missing in Southern Oregon.

Frey was last seen at the Umpqua Bank in Rogue River, Oregon on June 29, 2020. She had decided to take a trip as a way to cope with her brother’s unexpected death a few weeks earlier and mentioned to her father that she’d picked up a hitchhiker.

In the days prior to her disappearance, Frey used her credit card twice to purchase camping equipment and personal items. She also used her credit card to reserve a room at the Weasku Inn in Grants Pass, Oregon, but she never showed up to claim her reservation. She was reported missing on July 5th.

Her vehicle, a blue 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with two or three parking stickers on the windshield and the Oregon license plate number 339EYB, disappeared with her. A photo of it is posted with this case summary.

On September 23, almost three months later, the car was found on a dead-end spur off Reuben Mountain Road, a mining road about six miles past the Grave Creek Boat Landing in Josephine County. It was locked and some of her belongings, including food she’d purchased, were inside it. It appeared to have been parked there for a month or longer.

An extensive search turned up no indication of Frey’s whereabouts. Police have questioned the hitchhiker she picked up and the person isn’t a suspect in her case. Frey left her laptop and cellular phone behind, but her father stated she often didn’t use her phone and would use a burner phone to keep in touch with people.

Since Frey was last seen, her bank account has not been accessed. Authorities claim there is no evidence of foul play in her disappearance, which remains unsolved.

Oregon Has Third-Highest Rate Of Open Missing Person Cases In USA – Disturbing Number of Missing Women in Southern Oregon

Rogue Valley News, Friday 10/8 – Medford Police Now Asking for Help Finding  Missing Woman-Southern Oregon Missing Persons Crisis, Marijuana Seizure in  Canyonville - Rogue Valley Magazine

Of course, not only women are missing, as there are so many children and men missing too. And missing people is a crisis that gets shoved aside as not enough resources and it is a horrible thing to even think about.

This is an ongoing story and help from the public is needed to keep attention on this crisis and local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and the FBI need to make these investigations a priority.  People don’t just go missing like this without someone somewhere knowing something.

Fauna’s family has set up an anonymous tip line 541-359-5638 and email address findfaunafrey@gmail.com for anyone who has any leads on Fauna’s disappearance. #findfaunafrey #bringfaunahome — Let’s bring Fauna home!

Eugene Police Seek Public’s Help To Find Suspect in Acid Attacks

A Eugene woman was the victim of an acid attack early Tuesday morning, and it’s the fourth time she has been attacked this way, according to Eugene police.

Officials say the woman was most recently attacked at about 5:30 a.m. this morning when she answered her front door and a suspect threw acid on her. She was reportedly transported to a nearby hospital and treated for chemical burns.

This is not the first or even second time she has been attacked this way, according to police. They say that the first reported incident came to them on March 28, 2022. Police say the victim was walking her dog when an unknown attacker threw a cup of acid on her. Police said the woman and the dog both had to be treated for chemical burns. During police’s investigation into this incident, the victim also said that she had been attacked in November 2021 when an attacker threw a cup full of glass shards at her and her dog, but she did not report it at the time.

Police say that on April 19 the victim called 911 about a person trying to get into her home, who she believed to be the same person who attacked her in March. Police said she was attacked again on June 19 when a man broke into her residence, poured a chemical on her and lit her on fire. Police said that she was able to put out the fire with a sandal and was treated for burns at a nearby hospital.

According to police, the victim says the attacker was the same person in every incident, and that he made statements about her ethnicity during the attacks. Police say all of these incidents are being investigated. The suspect is described as a white male, age 17-20, with dirty blond hair and may have had freckles. Police say he was last seen wearing black pants, a black hoodie, and dark-colored boots.

Police are seeking tips about these cases. If you know anything about these incidents, please call Eugene Police Department detective Glenn Gilhuber at 541-682-5569 and refer to case number 22-04892 or 22-09739.

LCSO Case #22-3480 — Stolen truck and trailer containing animal health supplies

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying leads related to the theft of a full-sized truck and trailer. 

Sometime over the night of 06/27/22 into the morning of 06/28/22, a gray Ford F-350 dually pickup and attached white 20ft. Pace America enclosed cargo trailer was stolen from a location in the 91000blk of Old Coburg Rd. The trailer contained a large volume of various animal health products when it was taken.  The involved truck is possibly displaying OR Plate #F171407 or OR Plate #637KXH.  The trailer may be displaying OR Plate #HV46632.

Anyone with information about this case or the whereabouts of the truck and trailer are asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.  Reference LCSO Case #22-3480 when calling. Lane Co. Sheriff’s Office

Lane County Planning Commission holds public hearing on rural accessory dwelling units

The Lane County Planning Commission is conducting a work session and public hearing regarding proposed code amendments that would allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in rural residential zones. 

The work session and public hearing is Tuesday, July 19. The work session begins at 6:00 p.m. The public hearing begins at 7:00 p.m. People can attend in-person at the Lane County Customer Service Center’s Goodpasture Room (3050 N. Delta Highway, Eugene) or they can use the log-in link located on the meeting agenda to attend remotely

The code amendments authorize ADUs on properties zoned Rural Residential and at least two acres in size. The ADU must be accessory to a single family dwelling on the property, as well as several other standards and conditions. This project also includes codifying an allowance to convert an historic single-family dwelling to an ADU when the single-family dwelling is replaced, subject to certain conditions.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation and the proposed amendments will be considered for adoption by the Board of County Commissioners later this year. There will be additional opportunities for public comment before the Board of County Commissioners. 

The code amendments that will be discussed at the work session are available to review in person at the Lane County Public Works Customer Service Center (3050 N. Delta Highway, Eugene) or online here.

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/58vb50JJZGx

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

Identified coronavirus cases jumped 32% in Oregon last week compared to the previous week, according to state data released Monday, with hospitalizations rising above projections for the omicron wave.
Oregon recorded about 12,000 weekly cases, up from about 9,000 the previous week. The state is now identifying about 1,700 daily cases – the highest level since February – but reported case numbers are a dramatic undercount because of at-home testing.

The number of people hospitalized and testing positive in Oregon also jumped in the past week, reaching 357 as of
Monday, exceeding the June 5 peak of 327 projected by Oregon Health & Science University. The increase comes as Oregon sees more iterations of the highly contagious omicron variant.

Nine Oregon counties are now in the high category for spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with indoor masking recommended in public places.

The high counties are: Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Lane, Douglas, Coos, Jackson, Klamath and Lake. In the metro area, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties are in the medium range, with people at high-risk of severe infection encouraged to talk with a health care provider about whether to wear masks.

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The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) says Independence Day should be a holiday marked by freedom and fun – not forest fires.

Forest Service officials in the Pacific Northwest want people to celebrate safely with fire safety always, including this holiday weekend. USFS says all explosives and pyrotechnic devices, including fireworks and explosive targets, are prohibited in national forests in Oregon and Washington.

“Violators who bring fireworks onto national forests and grasslands can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced with up to six months in jail, and may be liable for suppression costs and property damage.”

Despite a seemingly extended damp spring, it says summer’s arrival is quickly drying potential forest fire fuels in the Pacific Northwest. USFS is reminding people about standing safety practices for visiting public lands, starting with a check of fire danger level and public use restrictions in effect.

It also suggests using a fuel stove with an on/off switch to prepare hot meals if cooking outdoors, and if campfires are allowed, keep coals inside a steel container or fire ring and never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish campfires by stirring water into the ashes and break up any coals until the ground feels cold. It asks smokers to smoke on places without vegetation-free area or stay inside a car to never toss lit cigarettes.

USFS recommends people have fire extinguishers or several gallons of water when traveling in remote areas.

In a related story,  Independence day gives people freedom — to “Keep it legal, keep it safe.”

That’s the message from the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) about Oregon’s 2022 fireworks retail sales season. It is underway, running through July 6.

To reduce wildfire risk, some local governments in Oregon have regulations, some including bans such as Talent and Phoenix, on sale or use of fireworks.
OSFM insists people check local regulations and follow them to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.
OSFM says consumer legal fireworks can be purchased only from permitted fireworks retailers and stands, and State regulations restrict where fireworks may be used. It says people who get legal fireworks should “practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use:”

Wildfire in Eastern Oregon Grows Past 40,000 Acres

Firefighters from several agencies around the region are working to contain a wildfire in Malheur County, Oregon, north of Vale. Smoke from the fire also is noticeable in much of southwestern Idaho. 

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and local rural and rangeland firefighters responded Tuesday night to what is now called the Willowcreek Fire. The fire was reported on private land at about 4 p.m. and spread to land managed by the Vale District BLM.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, the BLM estimated the fire to be 15,000 acres with zero containment. As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the fire’s estimated size is 40,000 acres and the fire remains uncontained, said Larisa Bogardus, public affairs officer for Vale District BLM.

The fire is burning in grass and sagebrush. The BLM says no injuries have been reported, the fire is not threatening any structures, and no evacuation orders are in place.

Cooler weather and calmer winds overnight gave firefighters the opportunity to get around hot spots move crews and other resources into a better position to fight the fire, Bogardus said Wednesday morning. Fire activity is expected to increase as temperatures rise through mid-morning and afternoon, but lighter winds are expected and the fire is not expected to spread as quickly as it did Tuesday evening.

Oregon Department of Transportation closed Interstate 84 from Ontario to Baker City due to smoke. The highway reopened by 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Firefighters from Burnt River and Vale Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, Vale Rural Fire Department, Oregon State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, two water tenders and two dozers are on scene, fighting the fire on the ground and from the air.

Oregon To End Bail-Based Pretrial Release System On Friday

A new state law that takes effect on Friday, July 1st makes major changes in Oregon’s process for determining whether and how arrested individuals can be released from jail before their first court hearing or trial, with a new system that focuses on their danger to the community — not whether they can afford bail.

Senate Bill 48, passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor last year, significantly changes the way that people who are charged with a crime are released from jail, Deschutes County Trial Court Administrator Angie Curtis said in a news release Tuesday.

As of July 1, “the historic security or ‘bail’ schedule will be replaced with new criteria that determine who can be released on their own recognizance, released with conditions or held in jail until an initial appearance before a judge,” Curtis wrote.

“The new release categories are based on the seriousness of the charges and the person’s individual history, such as prior convictions or failure to appear in court on past charges,” she said.

Based on the SB48 legislation, the Chief Justice of the Oregon Judicial Department issued Chief Justice Order 22-010, with guidelines for circuit courts to develop local presiding judge orders (PJOs) that refine release criteria, based on the needs of the community.

“The community should not be concerned about community safety” as a result of these changes, Deschutes County Presiding Circuit Judge Wells Ashby told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday as the court released his order.

“People who qualify for release and can be safely released will be released into the community,” Ashby said, “and those who require that security be set and need to visit with the judge will be held until that takes place.”

Although there has been some criticism of the changes, District Attorney John Hummel said, “This bill improves community safety.” 

“Right now, if you are arrested, dangerous, and have money, you can post bail at the jail and be released before seeing a judge,” he told us recently. “Come July 1, if you are arrested and dangerous, you will not be able to post bail at the jail, and instead will have to appear in front of a judge to request release. At a release hearing, the State and the victim will be able to argue against release. 

“Another positive result of this bill,” Hummel continued, “will be that if you are arrested and not a danger to the public, you will be released without having to pay bail money, and will be ordered to appear at a future court date to resolve your case. This is good, because right now, many people who are not a danger to the public sit in jail awaiting their first court appearance in front of a judge because they cannot afford to pay bail.”

Hummel pointed out three key aspects to the changes:

“1. People charged with certain dangerous crimes will not be released prior to a court hearing;

“2. Certain crimes will result in a release prior to a court hearing, but conditions will be placed on the person that they have to comply with when on release (depending on the charged crime, no alcohol, no contact with the victim, etc.).  This is different than the status quo.  Today, if a person is released from jail prior to a court hearing, the jail places no conditions on them. 

“3. There is an override section that will result in no release, even if the person is charged with a crime that is listed in the release section.  Override reasons include a pending criminal charge, threat of violence, on probation, prior failure to appear in court, and other listed conditions you’ll see if the draft order. “

Hummel said Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters “created guidelines that compiled with the bill, and she granted counties latitude to craft our own system, as long as it did not conflict with her guidance or with the bill.”

Ashby also noted that the county order, drafted with input from the local legal community, can be modified if any issues arise after implementation.

Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber recently issued a news release sharply critical of the SB 48-driven changes in the release process made by the chief justice. “One of the negative effects of this decision,” it stated, “is that many people battling mental illness, who are taken into custody for lower-level offenses, will be released and miss an important opportunity for connecting with mental health services to aid them in their illness and maybe prevent future criminal activity.”

Kaber said, “When someone is suspected of victimizing others, it is appropriate for them to be brought before the judge for their initial plea. That is best accomplished by holding them in jail until they appear before the court or requiring some form of assurance (bail) that they will appear before the judge at a later date.

“With the implementation of this law, in many cases being arrested will merely become an inconvenience for them, once they realize they will be released as soon as the initial booking process is complete,” the sheriff continued. “Many adults in custody will also not receive the mental health care they desperately need to help them avoid future conflicts with society.”

“This decision by progressive government officials, who do not understand the complexity of the criminal justice system, does not help our rural community. It is becoming easier each day to be a criminal in our state,” he said.

Kaber concluded the news release by saying: “Remember to lock your doors, lock your cars, keep an eye on your neighborhood, and report suspicious activity.”

 Hummel said after reading Kaber’s news release that it’s important to note “the sheriff of Klamath (County) is arguing for the status quo. The status quo is that rich, dangerous people can get out of jail right now without having to appear in front of a judge.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is proposing a unique plan to tackle record-high gas prices.

The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is putting forward a bill that would include a surtax on oil company profits. The surtax would be on top of the corporate tax rate and would push oil companies to either invest their profits back into their companies and workers or face a higher tax rate.

Wyden said, as paying for gas becomes more difficult for everyday Americans, their representatives are feeling pressure to get something done. Wyden’s plan would also impose a higher tax on stock buybacks and eliminate loopholes that allow oil companies to downgrade their profits.

Federal Judge Halts Logging Of Former Elliott State Forest Tract That Was Sold To Private Timber Company

A U.S. District Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday preventing Scott Timber from clearcutting old-growth forest that was previously part of the Elliott State Forest, a conservation group said.

The court found that the proposed logging of the Benson Ridge parcel by the subsidiary of Roseburg Forest Products would harm and harass threatened marbled murrelets, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins logging of the occupied murrelet habitat.

In August 2016, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Portland Audubon filed suit seeking to block Scott Timber from clearcutting 49 acres of the 355-acre parcel of land because of the impacts to threatened marbled murrelets.

“Today’s ruling is groundbreaking because it holds a private timber company accountable for plans to destroy habitat essential for imperiled wildlife in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This ruling establishes that private timber companies can no longer violate the Endangered Species Act with abandon.”

Marbled murrelets are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The Act strictly prohibits “take” — which includes harming, wounding, harassing or killing — of protected species. Marbled murrelets are sea birds with unique nesting requirements. They lay a single egg high in horizontal branches of old-growth trees within 40 miles of the coastline and make daily trips to the Pacific to bring fish to their young once they’re hatched.

Murrelets were documented in the stand proposed for clearcutting more than 200 times by both Coast Range Forest Watch, a group of citizen scientists who conduct murrelet surveys out of concern for their survival, and the logging company’s own contractors. This led the court to find that logging would harm murrelets “through the destruction and degradation of occupied murrelet habitat” and thereby impair the seabird’s ability to nest for “100 years or more.”

“I love marbled murrelets and I’m thrilled they got a little more protection from logging,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The state of Oregon, private timber companies, and all of us share a responsibility to stop extinction and protect forests. This decision is good news not only for murrelets, but for hundreds of other species and future generations.”

In July of 2021, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife up-listed the murrelet’s state protected status from threatened to endangered under Oregon’s Endangered Species Act. In response to a 2016 lawsuit, the Oregon Board of Forestry is in the process of developing rules to protect murrelet sites on state and private timber lands, but the board has dragged the process out for more than five years and has yet to propose final rules. When presented with this lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to take up the case.

“Since their listing 30 years ago under the ESA, marbled murrelets have moved even closer to extinction in Oregon in large part because state and federal agencies have not done enough to protect and preserve the older forests on which they depend,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Portland Audubon. “Hopefully this win and others that preceded it will encourage state and federal agencies to more aggressively pursue their responsibilities to protect and recover this amazing seabird that depends on Oregon’s older coastal forests to nest.”

The Benson Ridge parcel was acquired by Scott Timber as a part of the state of Oregon’s efforts to sell the Elliott State Forest in 2014. Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon and the Center challenged those land sale efforts in state court in order to keep the much-loved forest open to the public. In 2019 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the state’s efforts to sell the Elliott were illegal and that the state’s understanding that these lands needed to be managed to maximize revenue was misplaced.

The court’s ruling builds on recent successful efforts to permanently protect the remainder of the Elliott State Forest. This past legislative session, the Elliott State Research Forest was created, severing the link between old-growth timber sale revenues and public school funding in Oregon. The new research forest retains the forest in public ownership, creates a 34,000-acre permanent reserve on the west side of the forest to benefit murrelets and other imperiled species, protects nearly all of the remaining mature and old-growth forest left on the Elliott, and meaningfully engages western Oregon Tribes in its management.

The organizations were represented by attorneys for Cascadia Wildlands, the Center, attorney Daniel Kruse and the law offices of Charlie Tebbutt.

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