Family of slain man gets some closure; suspect appears in court

Family of slain man gets some closure; suspect appears in court

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. - The family of a man murdered outside his Lake Oswego home a week ago gathered Monday to speak about the arrest of a suspect in the case.

Frederick "Fritz" Hayes, 57, was stabbed to death in front of his wife on Sept. 17 near their home as the couple walked their dog. On Saturday, U.S. Marshals tracked down suspect Erik John Meiser, 37, in Corvallis and arrested him.

On Monday, family members gathered to reflect on the arrest and on Fritz's life.

"Because of such heart in the community, and the support of our extended family and friends, we've been able to make it through these past difficult days," Ruth Hayes-Arista, Hayes’ sister said.

When news of Meiser's arrest reached Hayes' wife, Maggie, Hayes-Arista said "the yells were so loud they could probably hear it in downtown Portland."

"There's some closure on all this," Hayes-Arista said of the arrest. "Just knowing he can't, he won't be able to hurt anyone else, that's most important."

Family members said Hayes was devoted to his family.

"With each and every child, his passion for his family was evident," his sister said. "He spent so much time with everything they did, supporting them."

"He was an extraordinary dad. He had room for play. He kept things light and funny," she added.

Meiser is accused of stabbing Hayes to death as he was leaving the family's home, which he had just burglarized, Clackamas County sheriff's deputies said.

Investigators said there was no indication Meiser and Hayes knew each other before the attack.

No other suspects

Investigators said on Monday afternoon that they confirmed Meiser was indeed the only person responsible for the murder.

At some point during the week after the murder investigators said Meiser became aware he was the suspect. They said he then changed his appearance and fled to Corvallis.

Meiser has a criminal history going back to 1989 and has the words "Neo Nazi" tattooed on the knuckles on one hand, according to the sheriff's office.

Clackamas County sheriff's deputies are still working with other law enforcement agencies to see if Meiser was responsible for any other crimes in the area, according to Sgt. Adam Phillips. They are also working with detectives in Utah about two cases there related to Meiser.

Meiser makes court appearance

Meiser appeared in a Clackamas County courtroom Monday afternoon via video.

Prosecutors announced eight new charges against him. Meiser is now charged with four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of robbery and three counts of burglary.

He said little in court and mostly stared straight into the camera that broadcast his image from jail. He listened intently as the judge agreed with prosecutors that bail should be denied based on the brutal nature of how Hayes was stabbed to death.

Prosecutors plan to go to the grand jury before Meiser's next scheduled court appearance on Friday. And investigators are working with police in Ogden, Utah to determine if Meiser is responsible for crimes there.