Grand jury indicts pair in drug informant's death

Grand jury indicts pair in drug informant's death
Jimmy Dewan Fears (left) and Zachary Thomas Mersch.

DALLAS, Ore. – A grand jury indicted two men in the death of an Independence, Ore. man who was working as a drug informant last year, the Polk County District Attorney said Friday.

James Hawkes, 29, was found dead and nearly naked in the woods near a cemetery last month. Hawkes was an informant for the Polk County Interagency Narcotics Team, according to court documents.

Jimmy Fears, 44, and Zachary Mersch, 24, were arrested and charged with Hawkes’ murder. The pair told investigators that they learned Hawkes was an informant and met him at a Monmouth, Ore. motel on Dec. 11 to confront him about being a "snitch," court documents said. Fears and Mersch each told detectives that the other man punched Hawkes “about 50 times” and used a stun gun on him.

The two men are accused of dumping Hawkes’ body in the woods.

Fears was indicted for aggravated murder (4 counts), murder (2 counts), kidnapping in the first degree (2 counts), abuse of a corpse in the second degree, escape in the third degree, interfering with a peace officer, and resisting arrest.

Mersch of Independence was indicted for aggravated murder (4 counts), murder (2 counts), kidnapping in the first degree (2 counts), and abuse of a corpse in the second degree.