Monday, June 19, 2006

Killer Thieves in Portland

It started with a shooting in a quiet residential neighborhood early on a Sunday morning. May 13, 2006 Chai Taphom, 28, was shot several times and his silver 2005 Honda Civic was stolen. The murder drew very little attention and police seemed to have no leads.

Two weeks later, May 28th, Michael Burchett, 38, from Vancouver was gunned down in the parking lot behind Blue Spot Video on NE 82nd Ave. The Blue Spot is a 24-hour video peepshow. Burchett had spent the day doing yard work in Vancouver. He spent the evening at a friend’s house in Gresham watching a boxing match.

News reports of Burchett’s death mentioned Taphom’s murder as another violent crime in the area, but police did not believe the killings were related. It was interesting that Burchett’s black 2000 Honda Civic was stolen from the scene of the murder.

Two weeks later on a Monday night Beaverton police responded to a robbery at a Plaid Pantry. Suspects fled the scene in a silver Honda Civic. After a short chase the Honda crashed and Cevelino Capuia, 19, a student at Portland Community College was arrested.

Police noticed something odd about the car, the license plate didn’t go with the vehicle. It soon became apparent that Capuia had been driving the car stolen from Chai Taphom. By this time police had already connected the two killings. Ballistics showed that the same gun had been used in both attacks. The investigation also showed that Taphom had visited Blue Spot video about 2:00am on the Sunday he was killed a few blocks away.

Police believed that the killers had waited in the dark parking lot and they may have picked their victims because of the cars they drove. Tophom was probably taken away from the parking lot before being killed, because the killers intended to come back for another car. Capuia led the police to his accomplice Shawn Womack, 21, a Linn-Benton Community College student from Corvallis.

By the time police caught up with Womack, who was arrested in Corvallis after a chase in Michael Burchett’s car, on May 14th, Marissa Manwarren, 17, was also dead. Manwarren was Capuia’s girlfriend. The adopted granddaughter of an Oregon State Senator, Manwarren had run away from home in April. She was shot to death near Beverly Beach in Newport, OR sometime between May 12 and May 14.

After Capuia was arrested, comments left on his account led police to believe that there was a third victim in the Newport area. Together with officers of the Lincoln County sheriff’s department they found Manwarren’s body on a secluded road.

Capuia and Manwarren both had accounts. From comments she left Manwarren was worried about Capuia’s “actions”. Her website shows that she was very attached to Capuia, under occupation in her profile she wrote: CAPUIA.

Capuia portrayed himself as a devout Christian on his website, quoting extensively from the bible. He also was very active at PCC, where he participated in an African-American literature event in February.

Shawn Womack ran for student body President at LBCC. Police said that neither of the young men had extensive police records. Capuia was arrested for second-degree burglary in 2005. Womack has a conviction for reckless driving the same year. Both were bright, well-liked young men. Capuia’s bible-quoting has led to some speculation that the two targeted men visiting the pornography store because they disapproved of pornography.

There has been a lot of speculation and rumor in this case. At one point it was reported that Manwarren had been pregnant by Capuia. Autopsy showed that she was not pregnant at the time of her death. Much of the early reporting, and web discussion, made it seem as if Capuia had killed Manwarren.

Capuia may have been the source of the pregnancy rumor; he may have told the Police Manwarren was two months pregnant. It is pretty clear now that he was in custody when she died. He was said to have burst into tears when told of her death. Maybe now he knows how the Burchett and Taphom families feel.

Womack and Capuia are both charged with the murders of Taphom and Burchett. No charges have been brought in Manwarren’s death yet, but police say they are confident that her killer is in custody.


Blogger xTaphomx said...

It wasnt Sunday morning its Saturday morning.I'm Chai Taphom NIECE i know well.He was shot 9 times in the head.And no my uncle did not visit the blue Spot Burchett did!Chai was killed in an alley on Davis street!I would suggest you reread it and correct the mistakes.If you have any questions you may ask me for them:]

10:00 PM  

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