Police: Suspect admits role in Gladstone salon death

Police: Suspect admits role in Gladstone salon death »Play Video
Susan Ellen Campbell appears in court via video camera Monday.

OREGON CITY, Ore.  - Oregon State Police say a suspect in the death of a Gladstone beauty salon owner has admitted her role to investigators.

In court documents released Monday by the Clackamas County district attorney's office, detectives say 54-year-old Susan Ellen Campbell told them she was alone with 54-year-old Debbie Lee Higbee-Benton at the shop on May 28, and caused her death.

Investigators say Campbell's admission led them to a handgun of the same caliber as the weapon used in the killing.

The documents also say that Campbell knew details of the killing that had not been made public.

Campbell was arraigned Monday afternoon. A court clerk said a defense attorney would be assigned.

During her arraignment, Campbell sat before a camera from a secure room in jail several miles from the courthouse. She only acknowledged the information about her case when the judged asked. She did not have to enter a plea.

There is a preliminary hearing for Campbell next Monday. She’s being held in the Clackamas County Jail without bail.

Prosecutors have not shared a motive.

In the courtroom was the younger brother of Higbee-Benton, Tony Stephens.

"It's hurt the family quite a bit," he said. "We're still in shock. Debbie was loved and a very sweet person. It just mystifies me that anybody would want to hurt her or do any harm to her."

Stephens said he's never met Campbell and his sister never mentioned her.

Higbee-Benton was well-known and well thought of by people in the community. She was also the life partner of Gladstone police Sgt. Lynne Benton who was often in front of cameras as a spokeswoman for the department.

Neighbors said Campbell was the caregiver the past few years for Sgt. Benton's mother who was living at the Campbell home.

KATU News reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report.