ELGIN, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon house painter wanted for the slayings of three acquaintances, including a woman whose severed hand was found by a child catching goldfish, has been captured in Washington state.
Acting on a tip from Oregon State Police, Thurston County, Wash., sheriff's deputies surrounded a rural house between the towns of Rainier and Yelm on Monday morning and arrested Gregory Alvin Cook, 42, without incident, said Chief Deputy Jim Chamberlain.
It was not immediately clear how long Cook had been at the house or how he knew the woman who lived there. Authorities said he was last seen in Hermiston on Friday, when he was believed to be hitchhiking.
On Saturday, a search party discovered the bodies of two of the victims on private timberland north of Elgin. No details were released concerning the deaths of Frank Scaramuzzi, 50, and Jeremiah Johnston, 28, both of Elgin.
The investigation began July 24, when a child netting goldfish in a small pond southwest of Elgin found a severed hand, which led investigators to the nearby body of Shannon McKillop, 51, of Elgin.
Thompson said all four knew each other, and the three victims were unemployed.
Chamberlain said Thurston County, Wash., deputies first got word Cook was in the area Sunday night, and went to the house, but saw nothing to make them believe Cook was there. Afraid the woman who lived there might be in danger, they returned Monday morning with a half-dozen deputies and local police. He added the woman has not been charged.
Chamberlain said they are still looking for the clothes Cook had on when he was last seen in Oregon: white painter paints, slippers, a long-sleeved shirt and a white T-shirt.
Cook is charged with murder in the death of McKillop, and aggravated murder in the deaths of Scaramuzzi and Johnston, Thompson said. The aggravated murder charge, which carries the death penalty, was brought under a provision covering multiple victims.