Confirmed murder-suicide rocks Wilkes neighborhood

Read the exclusive, chilling, but not graphic eyewitness account of this incident – apparently an extreme case of domestic violence …

Behind the Portland Police Bureau North Precinct patrol car, an officer listens – as a man, who says he’s the roommate of one of the deceased, recounts the early-morning events.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After getting off work as a bouncer at a night club, the man we later spoke with went to his unit in the Columbia Ridge apartment complex at 15920 NE Sandy Boulevard and took his dog for a walk. Coming back in for the night, he heard “an explosion; it didn’t sound like a gun going off”, and looked into the open bedroom door — where he saw his roommate, and what appeared to be his roommate’s girlfriend, lying shot on the floor.

The man who recounted this shocking experience, in the early hours of February 4, told the officer guarding the outer perimeter of the crime scene that the man he rooms with has always been “a really nice guy, kind of quiet.”

PPB detectives and investigators continue to make notes outside the unit where police say they found a deceased man and woman.

Continuing with his story, he says he suggested to his roommate that they call for medical help, but his roommate replied, “No, we’re not calling anyone.” With that, this witness closed his dog within his own bedroom, and headed out the door to call 9-1-1. “Then, I heard another bang, or explosion.”

While not identifying himself, the man telling the story looks visibly upset; he said he’s been up all night. He reveals his roommate’s name – Larry – and says he’s a DJ at a “gentleman’s club”; and the woman with him is Heather, an exotic dancer.

The PPB Mobile Precinct serves as headquarters for detectives and crime scene investigators.

“Approximately 3:18 a.m. a caller reported that possibly two people had been shot,” confirms Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Public Information Officer Sgt. Peter Simpson.

“Arriving officers established containment around the apartment, and heard what they thought were additional gunshots inside the apartment,” Simpson continues. “The Special Emergency Reaction Team along with Hostage Negotiators responded to the scene, and just before 5:00 a.m., made entry into the apartment.”

The SERT officers discovered a deceased adult female and a deceased adult male inside the apartment, the result of an apparent murder/suicide, Simpson adds.

As we pull into the area to report the story, the PPB Mobile Precinct is on scene, serving as the headquarters for the investigation. Two buildings and a parking lot between them are cordoned off with crime scene tape as detectives investigate the case.

Later that day, Simpson says that an autopsy has been conducted by the Oregon State Medical Examiner on both of the deceased found at the scene; it was determined that both died of single gunshot wounds.

Neighbors say they wonder when they will be able to return to their apartment units – and drive their vehicles, impounded behind the yellow police quarantine tape.

Simpson also confirms elements of the witness’s story.

“Based on the detectives investigation, it appears that 48-year-old Larry Vernard Bell, a resident of the apartment, shot and killed his girlfriend, 21-year-old Heather Elaine Rogers, then turned the gun on himself,” states Simpson. “Bell and Rogers also worked together at a Portland-area adult entertainment establishment.”

Detectives could not establish a prior domestic violence history between Bell and Rogers and it is not known where Rogers resided. A firearm was recovered at the crime scene.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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