HeadlinesBy Finn J.D. John

When the story first hit the newspapers, it all seemed very clear and simple:
An Albina man got drunk and beat up his wife. Her brother went looking for him to teach him a lesson, and brought along a friend who happened to be a police officer. The wifebeater, tracked down at a local saloon, came out shooting, and moments later the innocent, luckless policeman lay dying on the sidewalk as the wife-beating murderer fled into the night.
For newspaper readers on the morning of Dec. 19, 1907, it was like a Vaudeville stage tragedy come to life. There was a good guy – brave, valiant Joseph P. Sivener, on a mission to deliver a much-deserved thrashing to his no-good, wife-beating brother-in-law; a bad guy – Melville Bradley, the aforementioned brother-in-law, whose surly, shifty-eyed mugshot appeared next to the story in the paper; the fair damsel – poor, battered Mrs. Bradley; and an innocent victim: the poor policeman, who was just doing his job when sudden and undeserved death came and bore him away from his devastated wife and four tiny children.

Orlando MurrayBy Finn JD John

Early in November 1906, 21-year-old Orlando Murray went to pay a call on a 22-year-old acquaintance named Lincoln C. Whitney. The main subject of their conversation was to be Murray’s 16-year-old sister, Mary. Secondary topics for the two men’s tete-a-tete included wedding bells and a baby shower – not necessarily in that order – and, last but not least, a .38-caliber revolver.
The conversation did not go well.
Whitney had met Mary when she’d traveled from her Portland home to Hubbard, where Whitney lived, to work in the hop fields for a week. Whitney had, Orlando Murray said (and, later, testified), sweet-talked the cute young out-of-towner into bed with fair promises of marriage, then disappeared as thoroughly as he could. Meanwhile, several weeks after their brief liaison, Mary suddenly found herself in a very awkward position.

"Bunco" KelleyBy Finn J.D. John
In the shadowy world of late-1800s Portland waterfront folklore, there’s nobody who quite cuts the figure of a man named Joseph Kelley — better known by the nickname he carefully cultivated: Bunco Kelley.
Kelley was a crimp — that is, one of those tough waterfront characters involved in the trade of furnishing sailors, willing or not, to ship captains in need of a crew.
Kelley was also an easy and chronic liar with a real flair for a dramatic story — which means it’s often difficult to tell his fact from fiction.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the facts of Bunco Kelley’s life as best we are able to know them. Next week, we’ll turn to the spectacular legends that grew up around this unusually colorful bad guy.

Klamath FallsBy Finn J.D. John
At around 2 p.m. on a sunny Monday afternoon in August 1911, Klamath Falls resident John Hunsaker was driving past the Oak Avenue Canal when he saw something in it — something that looked like a man.


Boat boneyardBy Finn J.D. John

This is the story of Portland’s coldest cold-case file — a suspicious death in the worst neighborhood of the old Stumptown waterfront, almost lost in the mists of time, 135 years ago. Was it an accident? Or a murder? We’ll never know for sure. But there are good reasons to be suspicious.



Adam magazine imageBy Finn J.D. John

Drug addict and convicted robber Ray Moore was in his cheap hotel room on the corner of 12th and Morrison when his burglar friend Jimmy Walker pounded on the door.
Jimmy desperately needed help. He told Ray he’d shot a man, and was sure he’d be “burned for it.” He needed to get out of town.

Mug shotBy Finn J.D. John

October 20, 1926, could easily have been the day Mrs. M.D. Lewis died — suddenly, silently and violently.
She was doing some work around a small house she had for sale in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland when an old car pulled up in front of it and a small man with black hair and dark complexion stepped out. Rude and brusque, he beetled into the house as if he owned it, muttering, “House for sale” as he passed her.

Kenneth LeeEUGENE: A Blue River man will spend over a dozen years in prison following sentencing in Lane County Circuit Court last Thursday. Kenneth Robert Lee, 47, will serve 17 1/2 years behind bars as an accomplice in the January death of 38-year-old Terry Fruichantie of Cottage Grove. Robert Paul Smith, 35, drew a life sentence with no parole option for the murder of Fruichantie.

By Finn J.D. John

Portland's Stark Street ferryOn the afternoon of Nov. 8, 1858, 48-year-old Danford Balch stood on the deck of the Stark Street Ferry, holding a double-barreled shotgun. Both barrels were still smoking. At his feet in a widening crimson puddle lay the body of his son-in-law, Mortimer Stump.
It was the crime that would lead, early the following year, to the first public execution in Portland’s history. And it happened so long ago — it’s so shrouded in the mists of time and of rough-and-ready frontier recordkeeping — that it’s hard to know exactly what happened, or why.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: Purchase copies online at: Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.