The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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Grants Pass Police To Release More Info Today As Suspect Manhunt Now Over
After a long afternoon and into the night, with varying reports, a national spotlight, and lots of social media activity, the standoff in Grants Pass at the very house Foster tortured his victim ended.
—– Grants Pass Police Department at 8:12pm issued an advisory update: “ALL CLEAR. The Police activity near Shane Way and Sun Glo Drive has been CANCELLED, resume normal activities. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Grants Pass Police Department Short Release from last night:
“UPDATE JANUARY 30TH.
After several hours of a long standoff, Benjamin Foster is in custody. A press conference will be held tomorrow with additional information.”
According to Grants Pass Police, 36-year-old Benjamin Foster barricaded himself at the original crime scene near Shane Way and Sun Glo Drive.
Grants Pass Police originally reported that he was placed into custody. Then reported that Foster was taken to an area hospital alive. Police then later updated the media in the evening that he had died Tuesday evening after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police said that Foster barricaded himself deep inside a space underneath the home for hours. SWAT and a Crisis Negotiation team were on the scene working to get him out.
Police say they plan to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon with further details. His victim still remains in critical condition. We will continue to monitor the situation.
FROM PRIOR RELEASES– Grants Pass Police Say Man Suspected Of Torture And Kidnapping Of Woman In Using Dating Apps To Evade Police
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, an extremely dangerous suspect wanted for Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Assault, remains on the run. Detectives and Fugitive Apprehension Teams are continuing to follow investigative leads.
It is possible that Benjamin Foster may attempt to change his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or by changing his hair color. The Grants Pass Police Department asks the public to pay particular attention to Foster’s facial structure and eyes since those features are very difficult to change. Additional photos of Foster, as they become available, will be released to assist in his identification.
————————– Foster narrowly eluded a police raid last Thursday in the nearby unincorporated community of Wolf Creek and may have changed his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or changing his hair color, police said.
Police initially released a photo of Foster showing him with shoulder-length brown hair, but he had cut it and grown a thicker beard since the photo was made. He may have altered his appearance further since then, Hattersley said.
“We’re getting all kinds of calls about people walking along I-5, they have long beards and long hair,” Hattersley said. “We have a feeling that’s not really what he is looking like at this point.”
Police offered a $2,500 reward Friday for information leading to Foster’s arrest and prosecution. None of the 50 or so tips that have come in, mostly by phone, since then has been solid enough to lead to Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, according to Hattersley.
The Thursday night raid in Wolf Creek, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Grants Pass, involved Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents.
Foster, who had been staying on family property there, slipped away. His car was found over an embankment. Forested mountains surround the community, but investigators believe that instead of disappearing solo into the wilderness, Foster had help getting out of the area.
They arrested 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones of Wolf Creek last Thursday , and she has a court date this week accused of helping Foster.
She has a Friday Josephine County Circuit Court appearance, accused of hindering criminal prosecution.
Court records today say she helped Foster destroy and conceal crime evidence. Police say Jones followed Foster last Thursday, January 26, 2023, to a remote location at Wolf Creek. The court document says Foster intentionally drove his vehicle off of an embankment to destroy and hide crime evidence, then Jones gave him a ride to safety. Josephine County jail’s inmate record shows she’s in the jail on $25,000 bond.
Grants Pass police want Foster for attempted murder, assault and kidnapping charges.
Grants Pass police announced Friday that Foster was using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting people to lure them into assisting with his escape or to potentially find new victims. Hattersley said Monday that investigators no longer believe Foster was trying to find more victims but could have been seeking an unwitting person to help him avoid the intensive police manhunt.
“That’s why we put that out there,” he said. “We don’t want someone to unknowingly think that they’re meeting some great guy that’s actually a wanted felon that’s trying to get away.”
Tips regarding sightings of Benjamin Foster continue to flood into the department, and we are confident this dangerous criminal will soon be captured with the assistance of a concerned citizen. The Grants Pass Police Department appreciates the engagement of the community in this investigation, as well as the extensive media coverage from across the nation.
The man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state’s custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, faced decades in prison in Nevada after he was charged in 2019 with five felonies, including assault and battery. But a deal with Clark County prosecutors allowed him to instead plead guilty to felony and misdemeanor battery, and a judge sentenced him in September 2021 to serve between one and 2 1/2 years in a state prison.
William Quenga, a spokesperson for the Nevada prison system, told The Associated Press in an email that Foster arrived Oct. 18, 2021, at a prison intake facility but was released the same day, because the judge had factored into Foster’s punishment the 729 days he had spent in jail awaiting trial.
That means Foster had served his minimum sentence behind bars but was a half-year from serving the maximum time given by the judge.
The victim in the Oregon case was found unconscious and bound in Grants Pass, Oregon, on Jan. 24. She was hospitalized in critical condition and has not regained consciousness since then, said Grants Pass Police Lt. Jeff Hattersley.
Before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive inside her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks before she managed to escape in October 2019. Police said the woman suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and had been choked to the point of unconsciousness during her captivity.
Foster was released from custody two years later after reaching his deal with Clark County prosecutors.
Grants Pass police are working to find an attempted murder suspect tonight, and they’re working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Grants Pass Police Department (GPPD) met with the FBI to develop leads to find 36-year-old attempted murder suspect Benjamin Foster of Wolf Creek.
GPPD says he tortured and beat a woman to unconsciousness, updating today that she remains in critical condition and she has not regained consciousness since she was discovered last Tuesday.
Grants Pass police consider Foster extremely dangerous. They found his blue Nissan Sentra Thursday night, and GPPD is actively searching for him. He seems to have local ties that go back to high school — and back to last week.
Phoenix-Talent School District says a “Benjamin Obdiah Foster” graduated from Phoenix High School in 2006.
Police are sharing a different photo of foster today, as displayed without a beard and mustache because he might have shaved them — and maybe shaved his head — to evade capture.
Police advise people to call 911 with any information about Foster’s location.
The Grants Pass Police Department has established a Tip-Line and is offering a $2,500.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Anyone with information is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Tip-Line at 541-237-5607. Citizens should not approach this extremely dangerous suspect and call 9-1-1.
Mapleton Man Arrested for Assault With a Frying Pan
On 01/30/2023 at approximately 7:33pm, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls about a dispute in the 11700blk of Maple Ave. in Mapleton. One caller mentioned they overheard what sounded like gunshots during the dispute.
Deputies arrived and contacted 23-year-old Steen Joseph Hardt. Hardt stated he had been in a dispute with his father and struck him in the head with a frying pan and replica firearm. Deputies found a man inside the residence with a laceration on his head consistent with being struck by an object. Deputies located evidence of the assault including a broken cast-iron frying pan and broken replica firearm. There was no evidence of a firearm being discharged during the dispute.
The victim was transported to an area hospital. Hardt was taken into custody and lodged at the Lane County Jail on charges including Assault in the Second Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
Governor Kotek Releases Budget Proposal For Next Two Years
Governor Tina Kotek released her first budget proposal as governor on Tuesday, outlining key funding priorities for the next two years.
During a press conference announcing the proposal, Kotek acknowledged that the state is entering a challenging budget environment, with the looming possibility of a recession and the absence of one-time federal funding, but said funds in the state’s reserves will not be touched.
She also said she would not raise taxes, but instead rely on $765 million dollars that would typically go into the reserves. That money would instead be used to help make investments in three key areas.
First, housing and homelessness. The governor is asking for about $1 billion to invest in affordable housing production and preservation. She is also looking to create an office to help local governments and building developers in creating affordable homes.
Kotek said immediate, decisive action to address the housing crisis is crucial.
“The human suffering it causes to individuals, families and communities is absolutely unacceptable,” she said in the press conference. “We must act now to provide immediate relief to unsheltered Oregonians and to prevent thousands of families from becoming homeless.”
The governor said the proposed long-term investments complement the $130 million request she made in an emergency declaration earlier in January.
The second key area has ties to the homelessness crisis — mental health and addiction care. Gov. Kotek is asking for funds to support diversion and intervention programs. She is also looking for money to support staffing for local health providers and the Oregon State Hospital.
A more unified support system, Kotek says, will help steer people towards options for recovery.
“We have more to do to build on what is working and create a connected system that can lead to hope, healing, and recovery,” she said. “That’s why I’m proposing investments to disrupt the harmful and expensive pipeline of Oregonians who move from homelessness to jail or the state hospital.”
The final key area is education, early learning and childcare. The governor is requesting funds to build and upgrade learning facilities, and is looking to increase wages for early learning facility staff. She is also looking to expand access to childcare for working families.
Gov. Kotek said the investments will come with increased oversight to make sure the spending is accountable. The state of childcare and education must change, she said.
“Child care is too expensive and nearly impossible to find for families across Oregon,” the governor said. “It is absolutely unacceptable that less than half of Oregon’s third graders have demonstrated grade-level mastery in reading during the last school year.”
Kotek’s proposals will be considered by the legislature, who ultimately will draft and approve a final budget for the 2023-25 biennium. She said she is committed to working with the legislature in implementing the budget.
Details on the entire proposal can be found on the governor’s website
Oregon lawmakers are trying to figure out how to fix the wildfire risk assessment map that’s been rife with controversy since it was released last summer.
The map was rescinded and the Oregon Department of Forestry says it’s waiting on legislatures before making changes.
There’s bipartisan agreement that the map is needed, though what data is used for the map or who creates it is still up for debate — Republicans have introduced a bill to remove ODF from being involved with the map.
“We do need a map. We do need to include local folks, including the land owner, fire district, the county planners,” Sen. Lynn Findley (R-Vale), who represents Central, East and Southeastern Oregon.
Not all of Findley’s party is in agreement that a map is needed. Findley takes issue with how the map was created, from algorithms and satellite imagery, without crews checking and testing risk areas on the ground.
When the map was released, people were worried about insurance rates and home values. Some people were freaked out by letters they received that said their home was in a high-risk area for wildfire. Some of the people receiving those letters areas lived in deserts, had already mitigated fuels on their property, or lived on irrigated land– according to Sen. Findley.
Sen. Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) was also called out by “dozens” of property owners to survey their land. He says in many cases, he couldn’t see how the land could have been classified as high risk or extreme risk. Golden agrees the map should have been ground-tested.
“The agencies told us well, you know we had to meet the deadline that was in the bill. And we just didn’t have time. That was a little hard to hear. Because nobody said that to us,” Golden said.
Findley thinks, given what was being asked, the process was flawed from the start.
“I think we were ambitious when we gave Oregon Department of Forestry the original task, and they tried their best to meet the deadline, but you know, we didn’t give it adequate time to do the right thing,” Findley said.
Findley has introduced a bill to remove the requirement that the Oregon Department of Forestry takes part in issuing the map, preferring the aforementioned local stakeholders to take priority.
Another bill would prohibit insurers from considering the map in rate setting as Golden says, the map is meant to inform people about where they live and what steps they can take to protect their homes. He says the goal is so people have ‘affordable insurance. While lawmakers in California are considering the same steps, Golden admits it’s untested legal ground.
Golden has bipartisan cosponsors on a bill that would require ODF to study fire mitigation by banding together neighborhoods to create cooperatives to address fire mitigation with groups, rather than individual property owners.
“We have to undertake a program that’s going to cost money. That is going to be inconvenient and not wonderful for everybody. And I think anybody says, ‘I’m going to make sure I’m going to protect this state, and you’re not going to be regulated or required to do a damn thing,’ is fooling people. It is treating people like children instead of adults and we need to keep an adult conversation going,” Golden said.
Umatilla Electric Cooperative To Receive $90M For Eastern Oregon Power Grid
The Umatilla Electric Cooperative will receive almost $90 million in a federal loan for the expansion and improvement of northeastern Oregon’s electric grid, according to an announcement from Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) The funding will go toward a three-year plan ensuring the UEC’s ability to invest and serve in the area through intensive projects and continued service.
“Oregon’s severe weather events – from windstorms that down power lines and spark catastrophic infernos to ice and hail storms that cause losses in power as well as property damage – prove that we must fortify our aging grid infrastructure,” said Wyden. “This federal investment to make a power grid more resilient in Northeastern Oregon will go a long way in keeping rural Oregonians in Morrow, Umatilla and Union counties safer and with power through weather events to come.”
Umatilla Electric Cooperative serves nearly 16,000 consumers across 2,334 miles in three counties. The rural development loan will connect 645 new consumers and build on or improve 93 miles of line in the region. An additional $12 Million is also included for smart grid technology.
“This funding is a smart investment in rural Oregon’s infrastructure and future,” said Merkley. “Ensuring rural cooperatives have the resources necessary to maintain modern and reliable electric infrastructure provides economic opportunity that rural communities across Oregon need to thrive. I’m pleased this funding supporting smart grid technologies is headed to eastern Oregon, and I’ll continue to fight for more of these investments for rural areas in every corner of our state.”
Click It or Ticket — Winter 2023
Of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants killed in the United States in 2020, 51% were not wearing seat belts. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent in an SUV, van or pickup and by 45 percent in a car according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Law enforcement agencies across Oregon will be utilizing federal grant funding to staff additional traffic safety patrols from January 30th through February 12th. Deputies will be on the lookout for improper seatbelt use and all other dangerous driving behaviors.
Please take the time to confirm that you and your children are properly restrained before setting out. Drive sober and text-free! Your lives are worth it!