PORTLAND, Ore. – Detectives named Erik John Meiser a suspect in the murder of a Lake Oswego man after finding a bloody machete in a driveway of a house near the murder scene, court documents said.
The machete had Meiser’s fingerprint on it, a detective said.
Court documents obtained by KATU News said Meiser was standing in the kitchen of Fritz Hayes' home when Hayes and his wife returned from a morning walk at around 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 17.
When Mrs. Hayes saw Meiser holding a machete in one hand and a knife in the other, she screamed and ran out a back door. She went around to the front of her house and found her husband near the driveway bleeding profusely, documents said.
Fritz Hayes died in his wife’s arms as she was one the phone with 9-1-1 dispatchers.
Officer talks with Meiser at bus stop
Less than three hours after the murder, a Lake Oswego police officer spoke with Meiser at a TriMet bus stop at Southwest 22nd Avenue and Boones Ferry Road. The officer told detectives Meiser matched the suspect description, documents said.
Meiser told the officer he was passing through the area. He appeared nervous to the officer and his clothes appeared odd, documents said.
Meiser told the officer he was heading to Portland, but he was waiting for a bus that was heading the opposite direction. It’s unclear why the officer did not detain Meiser.
"The officer involved is a witness in a criminal case," said Lake Oswego Police Captain Dale Jorgensen. "He has not yet testified before a grand jury and it would be inappropriate for any comment to be made before he testified. We're just not going to comment on an ongoing investigation."
A source familiar with the investigation told KATU News that roughly two-dozen people who matched the description were stopped that morning. About half of them told police they were passing through the area.
The source spoke on the condition on anonymity.
Meiser linked to nearby burglary
Court documents said Clackamas County detectives investigated a burglary on the same morning as the murder at a home within half a mile of the Hayes residence. Detectives believed the burglary was linked to the murder because of the location and time.
The suspect broke into a garage and removed a bicycle from an overhead car rack, but left the bike because it had flat tires, documents said. The burglary happened very early in the morning.
Detectives found a plastic bottle in the yard that the homeowner insisted was not his. A forensic examination found one of Meiser’s fingerprints on the bottle.