Look around and chances are that you will catch a glimpse of someone like Fayetta Dancer of Gresham.
The 21-year-old is one of the countless people who we see every day without noticing. These are people going about living their lives. They live. They work. They raise families. And they die.
For those who don’t know them they are simply the blurry backdrop of life.
Dancer is at home in her apartment with her five-year-old son and twin baby girls. The father of her children is at his job as a caregiver for people with developmental disabilities.
She is struggling on several levels, a fact brought in to sharp relief by the recent death of her grandmother. For all practical purposes, the woman – Lela Kanfield – was her mother.
“She was everything,” says Dancer. “She raised me. She kept me going. She taught me so much.”
Look around and chances are that you will catch a glimpse of someone like Fayetta Dancer of Gresham.
It all starts with a phone call.
Jamie Read, a psychiatrist in Portland calls someone that she knows who puts her in touch with someone else. Before she knows it she's on the phone with a sympathetic ear telling the story of her nephew, 25-year-old Zachary Porter.
Porter has been unemployed for about a year, been kind of struggling to find his way as he balances his time between taking care of his 5-year-old son and his mother who is disabled.
"He's a good kid who has had some problems but is getting things in order," says Read. "He's had his struggles. Just like most people."
Porter, a graduate of McMinnville High School, liked to ride his motorcycle but also recognized that when money is needed, some things have to go.
So, he listed it on Craigslist and got some interest.
He emailed back and forth with a potential buyer and set up a meeting in Coos Bay.
"I arrived safely," he texted his Dad when he got there.
Porter sold the motorcycle and was able to find someone to offer him a ride back north.
He has not been seen since.
For Robert Friedenwald, life was about priorities.
"It was always his family first," says his widow, Peggy Bird. "Followed by his love of country and the fact that he was a mensch."
Bird quickly adds that those three priorities were really all wrapped into one for Friedenwald, who spent 28 years in the Army Corps of Engineers followed by 13 years at the Port of Portland. "He was a mensch through and through and he loved doing what was right."
Friedenwald died last week at 77.
He arrived in the area in 1982 to head up the Portland District for the Corps just as the region was trying to recover the from the eruption of Mount St. Helens. The eruption, combined with a 5.1 magnitude earthquake, wreaked havoc on the area. The avalanche of debris was the largest in recorded history.
“He was 19 and too young to die,” the uncle of Jesse Trader says.
Trader was returning from a night of running a water truck helping fight the Big Windy Complex of fires in Josephine County when his truck hit an embankment and rolled.
“They took him by air ambulance,” says his uncle, Ed Pentecost. “They tried to revive him, they tried to save him.”
Pentecost stopped talking and cried for a moment.
“But they couldn’t,” he finished.
The family got the message around 10:30 Tuesday morning that Jesse had died, Pentecost said. Trader’s parents immediately started out for Grants Pass to claim their son.
Pentecost said that his nephew was working for another uncle’s rural fire department and had gone down to Josephine County last week.
“It’s crazy. In the 25 years since I was a student in the Portland Public Schools, just looking at the changes and how things have declined, it’s crazy.
“I don’t even know where to start.”
Thomas Lauderdale, founder of iconic Portland band Pink Martini, is on the bus up to Seattle for the band’s Sunday night show. And if he is flummoxed by something, chances are there’s a real problem at hand.
Mike Rowe makes me cry.
I’m sure he doesn’t mean to but the Beaverton police officer has a story that just breaks my heart to the point where if I look at his Facebook page or see a message from him, I tear up.
Mike’s wife, Kendall died a week ago.
She was 37-years-old and had been battling colon cancer for almost four years.
A few weeks ago she reached the point where she was done. Chemo had run its course and she was beyond tired. They went to the coast and came home to hospice care.
On Thursday, they arrived and Mike – with the help of friends – made sure she had Disney princess sheets waiting for her on her new bed.
The next morning she died.
Her last word was “Mike.”
We’ll call her Mary, which is not her real name.
She’s 14-years-old, from Vancouver and a symbol of so much that is wrong right now.
Her story, which should not be read over breakfast and contains graphic content, is detailed in court papers related to the indictment of the men who prosecutors said paid to have sex with her and the woman who was her alleged pimp.
It started last summer when Mary, a runaway, was hanging out with the older sister of a friend of hers.
The older sister had been supporting herself as a prostitute. One day she took Mary to see Laura Lambden, who prosecutors say was the sister’s pimp and would sell drugs to her.
In court papers, this is what prosecutors and investigators say happened:
If Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen returns to work Monday and finds himself in a hostile work environment, he will have no one but himself to blame.
If he shows – he didn’t on Friday – it will be his first day of work since his four fellow commissioners made it clear that they do not want him around.
It’s been two weeks since employees of Multnomah County were informed via anonymous email that Cogen had been carrying on an affair with one of his top health advisers, Sonia Manhas.
In the time since then, Cogen has avoided opportunities to mend fences and find a way forward.
For a little while Thursday morning, around 100 or so people in a board room at the Multnomah County headquarters in Southeast Portland were riveted by one man’s tale of contrition and redemption. That man was not Jeff Cogen.
He spoke eloquently about the troubles he had been through, how he had recognized the mistakes he had made and how he had worked his life back on the right path.
That man was not Jeff Cogen, the chairman of the County Commission, who had just cast the one vote to kill a resolution from his four colleagues demanding that he step down.
The man they were listening to was 49-year-old Sam Oliver.
It hasn’t always been like this for Lillian Shirley, currently a casualty of the Cogen affair.
It would be so easy to spend paragraph after paragraph lifting her accomplishments from her time in Boston where she served as the first executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, to her volunteer work for Southeast Asian refugees and her time here running the Multnomah County Department of Health.
She came in and helped establish a national reputation for the department and herself, taking the old line about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure to new levels.
Like a detective working to bring crime down by shifting the focus to social and economic factors that lead to crime – the broken windows theory – Shirley has tried to do the same when it comes to making Multnomah County a healthier place.
Instead of aiming for minimums – clean restaurants, making sure people get immunizations – Shirley has taken the approach that you need to look at the impact factors such as economic disparity has on health.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The last time Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen was in the office he was tearfully confessing to having carried on an affair with one of his top policy advisers for 18 months.
On Monday will return to the office, planning to be at his desk around lunchtime.
The minute news that he was coming back hit County offices on Friday, the phone calls started. And they have not subsided.
From ground-level workers to department directors to County Commissioners, there is one message coming across – they are not ready for him to come back, according to county employees who spoke with KATU on the condition on anonymity.
On Tuesday evening, after Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen admitted to reporters from Willamette Week and The Oregonian that he’d been having an affair for 18 months, he chose to lay down in the back seat of a SUV driven by a staffer rather than face another reporter.
As my colleague Bob Heye pointed out that night in his report, you could clearly see the evening light catch a glint of Cogen’s wedding ring as he was sped away.
It was a moment that was not lost on his colleagues on the county commission and people who have known the once-rising star a long time and count themselves among his friends.
PORTLAND, Ore. - “We claim this baby.”
Police Officer Marci Jackson is talking about the baby that was found by an employee of a recycling center in North Portland on May 28. The girl had died shortly after being born - her umbilical cord was torn, but still attached.
Born just over five pounds, it was determined she had taken some breaths before dying. Whether she was murdered or allowed to die (a distinction that not all will see) remains to be determined.
“What is certain is this child never had a chance,” says Jackson.
In her 20 years as a police officer, Jackson – who heads the bureau’s Crisis Response Team that responds to traumatic events to lend assistance to victims and their families – has seen many difficult things.
It should not be a surprise that investigators looking into the disappearance of Kyron Horman three years ago from Skyline Elementary School in Northwest Portland have a pretty strong idea of what happened to the child.
More than a dozen law enforcement agencies – with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office at the lead – including every single police department in the metro region as well as numerous federal departments including the FBI and the DEA have been involved.
Three years to the day since Kyron was reported missing, the case is now under the supervision of its third lead investigator. Part of that has been because of normal promotions but part of the rotation has been to keep bringing in fresh perspectives.
People involved in the search know that it’s easy to hear the name “Kyron” and assume the case will never be solved; to think that the case is on the back burner.
"He has a very strong faith," says Cherie Goetz, the sister of Kinley Adams who has been missing on Mount Hood since Saturday. "I know that will get him through. He knows what to do to hunker in there"
Goetz spoke with KATU by phone Monday night as she sat surrounded by family.
"I picked up his sons at the airport and we're trying to decide if we should go up to the mountain," she says. "The longer he is missing, the harder it is to just sit here and wait. It's very hard to wait, really hard.
"We're hanging on to the fact that if that woman could do it, he can do it."
She's referring to Mary Owen, who was trapped up there for six days before being rescued.
"He's got a good head," Goetz says.
And she should know.