Attempted murder and kidnapping suspect Benjamin Foster is dead, and investigators believe he killed two people while on the run in Oregon over the last week. Photo courtesy of Grants Pass Police Department
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Attempted murder and kidnapping suspect Benjamin Foster is dead, and investigators believe he killed two people while on the run in Oregon over the last week.
Foster was accused of kidnapping, binding and beating a woman in Grants Pass, Ore. He had been on the run for more than a week.
The Grants Pass Police Department held a joint press conference with Oregon State Police and the Josephine County Sheriff's office to discuss the timeline of events on Wednesday. The timeline includes Foster's escape following a night-long standoff and the discovery of two deceased bodies during a welfare check.
Police first responded to a call from a residence in Grants Pass on Jan. 24, where they found a woman "bound and severely beaten," according to Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman. On the following day they were granted a warrant for Foster's arrest.
On Thursday, law enforcement honed in on Foster after receiving a tip that he was at a residence in Sunny Valley, a small unincorporated community about 16 miles north of Grants Pass and near Wolf Creek State Park. Several agencies responded, including multiple SWAT teams. During the standoff, Foster slipped away and remained at large, Hensman said.
Hensman said a task force was then created specifically to hunt for Foster.
On Tuesday, law enforcement received a tip about a male calling for a cab in the Sunny Valley area, Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said. Multiple agencies began administering door-to-door welfare checks. When visiting one home, an officer spotted what appeared to be a crime scene through an open window. Upon entry, two corpses were found belonging to Richard Lee Barron Jr. and Donald Owen Griffith, both residents of the home.
Meanwhile video footage confirmed Foster had returned to Grants Pass and was near the residence where the original crime took place, Hensman said.
"You can imagine the fear and concern that came across your chief of police and every law enforcement professional when we learned this happened," he said. "We immediately activated our SWAT team, reached out to all of our colleagues to deploy people to the residence immediately."
Law enforcement surrounded the residence where Foster was believed to be inside and issued an alert for nearby residents to shelter in place, Hensman said. A "lengthy" standoff ensued with failed attempts at communicating with Foster, who had "burrowed" himself underneath the home.
"We anticipated a gun fight at the end and that's not what happened. At the end, throughout this entire process, Foster took his own life with what appears to be a single gunshot wound to the head with a .45-caliber weapon," Hensman said.
After recovering Foster, which involved digging up floorboards in the residence, it was discovered that he was still breathing. He was transported to a local medical facility, where he was pronounced dead within the first couple hours of arriving, the chief said.
Oregon State Police Capt. Kyle Kennedy said Foster is the only suspect in the killing of Baron and Griffith in Sunny Valley. The investigation into their deaths is ongoing but Kennedy said it appears to be the result of blunt-force trauma.
"It's a brutal scene that we're processing," he said.