Sunday, September 24, 2006

Portland Round Up

The summer doldrums seem to be over. There are some new developments in old crimes and some interesting new ones have occurred. Let’s see if I can bring you up to date.

The Other Shoe

When I wrote the original story on Susan Kuhnhausen, the emergency room nurse who strangled a burglar in her home, I suspected there was more to the story than we knew. While I was on vacation the other shoe dropped.

Kuhnhausen returned home from work on the evening of September 6 to be confronted by an apparent burglar armed with a hammer. During what she called “the fight of her life” Kuhnhausen was struck with the hammer and bitten in several places. Finally she was able to get ex-convict Edward Dalton Haffey into a choke hold and she hung on until he was dead.

Kuhnhausen told the police she suspected that her husband had been involved in the attack, because he was the only one, besides her, who knew the security system code to the house. There was no sign of forced entry and Michael Kuhnhausen, 58, had left a note on the kitchen table saying he was going to the beach, and proving he had been in the house on the 6th.

Haffey was identified quickly because he was carrying his wallet and it was soon determined that he had been working as a janitor at Fantasy Video, where Michael Kuhnhausen worked as a supervisor of janitors. Haffey also had a backpack with him. Inside the backpack police found Michael Kuhnhausen’s cell phone number and a calendar entry saying “Call Mike, Get Letter” scribbled on the week of Sept 4th.

Security alarm records showed that someone had entered the house twice on the afternoon of September 6. Michael Kuhnhausen admitted that he had entered the house that he owned with his estranged wife, but claimed that he had nothing to do with the plot. Records also showed that Michael had used Susan’s credit card to buy a .357 magnum from a local pawn shop. The couple’s daughter, Angela, told police that her father had left a suicide note at her home on September 7 and disappeared.

Clackamas County deputies took the armed Michael Kuhnhausen into custody on September 13 and he now faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder and domestic-violence related attempted murder.


Wheels Grind Slowly


Anna Svidersky was a high school senior stabbed to death while working at McDonald’s in Vancouver, WA last spring. Her killer, David Sullivan, has a long history of mental illness and this has created a lot of complication in the legal case.

Sullivan has been deemed competent to stand trial for the murder. On Friday, September 22, Sullivan plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The fact that Sullivan is competent to stand trial means that he understands the first degree murder charge against him and that he can assist in his own defense.

Now Sullivan must undergo independent evaluation to determine diminished capacity and insanity. No telling how long this process will take.


Body Parts in the River

A gruesome case has been developing over the last week involving the dismembered body of Douglas Adamson, parts of which have been turning up in the Columbia River. On Sunday, September 17, a couple fishing on Government Island spotted an athletic bag wrapped in duct tape floating in the river. They dragged the bag to shore and the smell made them suspect something dead was inside.

Police recovered the bag later in the day and found the torso of a middle aged man inside. On Wednesday a woman walking her dog by the river in Vancouver discovered an arm and the next day a maintenance worker at a Vancouver park found a leg floating in the river.

Police were able to lift fingerprints from the severed arm and have identified the body as that of Douglas Adamson, 52, a Portland auto mechanic who was reported missing on September 12.

Adamson, who had been off work for several weeks with a knee injury, was last seen by his roommate on September 9. The next day his pick up truck was found abandoned on Interstate 205 near North Killingsworth Avenue. On the 12th he was reported missing.

Adamson has a criminal record going back to the mid 90s with convictions for assault and possession of a controlled substance. In 2001 and again in 2003 a woman had filed domestic violence related restraining orders against Adamson.

So far police are baffled by the crime. Detective Commander Cliff Madison, of the Portland Police who is investigating the crime, said “This is unusual and the motive behind this will definitely be interesting.”

Unusual is right. The last time dismembered body parts were found floating in the river was in 1946. All summer brown-paper parcels containing parts of the body of a middle-aged woman were found floating at various spots on the Willamette. As far as I can tell the police were never able to identify the victim in that case. At least this time they know who the victim is.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this case. Last but not least…

Northwest Contender for the Shortest Time of Freedom

Autrey J. Lewis, 37, of Vancouver is vying for the record for the shortest freedom from prison. Lewis, convicted twice of second-degree robbery in 1987 and 2002, was released from his latest prison term at 10:22am on April 20th. By 8am on April 21st he was back in custody, this time for first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary with sexual motivation and second-degree robbery.

Less than 12 hours after being released from jail, Lewis broke into the home of a 68-year-old Vancouver woman, forced her into her car and drove her to a Hazel Dell area bank were she withdrew $200 using her debit card.

This week Lewis plead guilty to all three charges and under Washington’s “most serious offenses” law was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. We’re probably all better off with him put away.

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