Too Many Questions Still Unanswered
2006 was a year with several high-profile police shootings in Portland and the surrounding area. Several times this year we have had major press coverage and public review hearings on police shootings. In the case of David Hughes we had two Oregonian articles and mostly silence from official sources.
The charges that Hughes was to be sentenced on stemmed from an argument involving his ex-wife Treva Richardson and Gary George. The argument involved a car and a dog. Some new information that has come to light makes the argument even more bizarre – the car that Treva and George were fighting over belonged to David Hughes.
According to an old friend of David’s, who spoke with him shortly after the confrontation in March 2006, Treva had been out of David’s life for several years, but somehow they met up again at a vulnerable time for David. He had recently been divorced and then his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Drug abuse seems to be the main thread running through this whole story. David had been a drug user before marrying his second wife in the 1980s. After getting clean from drugs David continued to abuse alcohol. During their separation Treva had become addicted to methamphetamine and both of their children had become addicts as well. David and Mary Hughes saw David’s son through rehab in 2002.
Treva also seems to have gotten herself into a dangerous situation. She was now living in a “biker compound” on NE 42nd. This was the house of Gary George. The Oregonian says that Treva was George’s girlfriend.
Treva allegedly stole the car from David. Gary George put his own name on the title and David stole it back. The only other crime that David was accused of was a forgery charge, for putting his name back onto the title of his own car. This started the fight over the car.
David began using methamphetamine and isolated himself into a small group of drug addicts that called themselves the “happy family.” One rumor says that David had suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with congestive heart-failure. The rumor is that he decided at that point he would live his life as he wanted to, regardless of who he hurt.
David’s ex-wife says that he was always fascinated by weapons. One rumor is that he began buying drugs and weapons from the Russian mafia in Vancouver. I’m pretty sure that the Russian mafia has a presence in both Vancouver and Portland, I’m not so sure that David was involved with them. I think there was a dangerous crime organization that was much more convenient.
This brings us back to Gary George. Who was he? And who killed him?
I guess we have an answer to the second question. Bobby Donald Barnes is in jail charged with aggravated murder and associated crimes. Barnes, a registered sex offender on parole for prostitution and rape, was arrested on April 24, 2006 on a warrant for a parole violation. He was picked up at a house in northeast Portland a couple of miles from George’s home.
While Barnes was in custody detectives were called to George’s home. They found Gary George in a pool of blood, beaten to death. Guns, a laptop computer and knives were stolen from the home. Two unnamed people claim to have driven Barnes to George’s house before the killing. Police also say they have DNA evidence linking Barnes to the killing. If they have all this evidence, why has Barnes not been convicted?
Because he hasn’t been brought to trial. Chief Deputy District Attorney Norm Frink says it is “unclear if there will be a trial.” He said that in December. Since then he hasn’t said anything. The only way I know about the information in the last paragraph is from a tiny little story in the Oregonian that I managed to find because I have become obsessed with this case.
So that’s what the police want us to think is the answer to who killed Gary George. Maybe they’re right. The only way we’ll know is when a jury decides. Until then, let’s see what we can do with the first question: Who was Gary George?
His family is quiet. One relative, a niece I think, was married on the same day Gary died. She has her grief to deal with and she is not saying anything about her uncle or his activities. The detectives told her that Gary was killed because of a “drug deal gone bad.” I was almost ready to believe that, until I found the story in the wrap-up of Portland murders in 2006. The police give a whole list of things stolen from George’s home, but drugs are not mentioned.
Some people think David Hughes was getting drugs and weapons from Gary, but David Hughes apparently believed that Gary George was a cop. Could Gary George have been working undercover?
I don’t know the answer to that and maybe I don’t really want to know. There are some suspicious circumstances though. Gary George had a minor record, a charge of 4th degree assault that was dropped in 1998. George was armed and he was not shy about defending himself, evidenced by the confrontation between Gary, David and Treva in March. Eight times between 1998 and 2005 police were called to Gary’s house because he had been the victim of some kind of crime.
After the confrontation in March, David and Treva were able to drive only two or three blocks before being apprehended by the police. Gary lived in an industrial district that is pretty empty day or night. His house was the only residence within blocks. Gary George got very fast and efficient police response in a pretty isolated area.
This certainly isn’t evidence that Gary George was an undercover cop. David Hughes had become very paranoid from isolation and drug use, so what he believed is highly questionable. Yet a cloud of mystery still hangs over the whole story. Things are not happening in the usual way and everyone is very reluctant to talk about it. Too many questions are still unanswered.