Police: Woman met killer through her volunteer work

Police: Woman met killer through her volunteer work

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police say a local volunteer’s accused killer met her through her charity work.

Niki Powell, 32, was found dead in her own apartment in the 1400 block of Southeast Belmont Street on Tuesday, July 10. It's still unclear what happened inside Powell's second-floor apartment.

The organization, Operation Nightwatch, that Powell volunteered for says they have standards regarding strict boundaries between volunteers and guests. So why the suspect was invited into her personal life remains a mystery.

Operation Nightwatch caters to the homeless out of a space in Saint Stephen's Parish. In that sacred space she served coffee, food and talked to guests. It's also where she met Mark Daniel Beebout – the man later accused of murdering her.

"A couple weeks before she disappeared she was saying she had roommate problems," said John Kamp, who knew Powell.

Kamp said he didn't know who Powell's roommate was only that she was having problems.

Powell's neighbors told KATU News they'd seen the suspect coming and going into her apartment in the weeks before her death.

As a guest at Operation Nightwatch, Kamp said he was disturbed to hear the suspect was also a guest.

"If I knew that he was her roommate I would have helped her out because she'd want him out of there," Kamp said.

Lawrence Bishop, who volunteers at Operation Nightwatch, said the policy on guest-volunteer boundaries at the organization is strict.

"If you volunteer here, when you leave you don't fraternize, you don't date," he said. "You never know, and the reason the policy is set up is for that reason."

The organization wrote in a statement: "We pride ourselves in our ability to guarantee a safe space for all who attend our Hospitality Centers. However, we are powerless to extend that guarantee if boundaries are transgressed beyond Nightwatch hours."

Beebout is waiting to be extradited from the Seattle area to Portland.

Friends and loved ones of Powell are organizing a vigil. That will be Tuesday, July 31 at 6 p.m. at Laurelhurst Park.