Man dies after ‘horror house’ stabbing

See why neighbors say they’ve been concerned about what goes on in, and around, this Centennial neighborhood house for quite some time …

This Centennial neighborhood “horror house” wouldn’t have come to the public’s attention – had it not been for the man who police think was stabbed there, and later died.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Anyone who doesn’t live on the street probably can’t picture where the 14600 block of SE Caruthers Street is located – other than it’s in the Centennial neighborhood of outer East Portland.

And, few have driven past the house at 14630 SE Caruthers Street. The yard backs up to a parking lot between Duke’s Country Bar & Grill and the new Key Bank on SE Division Street.

However, neighbors on the otherwise-residential street say they know this house – and especially its residents – all too well.

“We call it the ‘horror house’,” remarked nearby neighbor Belinda Jacobson.

“There are all kinds of bad things going on at that house,” she said as she tended her yard. “There’s no electricity. There’s filth all over the back yard – it is waist-deep in garbage. We just want them gone – and out of our neighborhood.”

The missing meter is a clear indication that there is no electrical service to this house.

Another neighbor, for fear of retaliation, asked to remain anonymous when interviewed. “Because of them, I’m afraid. They’ve threatened my neighbors to not call authorities [to report] them.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years, but now, I’m afraid to live in my own home,” the neighbor told East Portland News. “The City of Portland has all kinds of money for their own special ‘pet’ projects – but no money to enforce housing regulations.

Police begin an investigation, when a 44-year-old man arrived by private car, bleeding from a stab wound, at the Adventist Medical Center Emergency Department.

Police say this man, 44-year-old Victor “Todd” Howell, died in on a Trauma Center gurney, shortly after he was admitted to the hospital. Oregon Driver’s License photo

On Sunday morning, April 6, at 9:11 a.m., Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers were called to the Mill Park neighborhood – specifically, to the Emergency Department of Adventist Medical Center.

“A man, later identified as 44-year-old Victor ‘Todd’ Howell was suffering from a stab wound,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Officers arrived at the hospital, and learned that the man died as the medical staff was working to save him.”

The Oregon State Medical Examiner confirmed that Howell died of a stab wound.

“Detectives served a search warrant early this morning at 14630 SE Caruthers Street.” Simpson said, “It was served in connection with the investigation of Howell’s death. Detectives believe this residence is the location of the stabbing.”

Simpson asked for the public’s help, requesting anyone with information to contact Detective Molly Daul at (503) 823-0991, molly.daul@portlandoregon.gov; or, Detective Rico Beniga at (503) 823-0457, rico.beniga@portlandoregon.gov

The trash and recycling cans in this photo belong to a neighbor. No garbage cans are evident near “Horror House” – nor is power, water, or sewer service, some reports say.

Although other neighbors who spoke with television news reporters said problems at the rental house – owned by Katherine A. Sprague of Oregon City, according to Multnomah County records – have not been responded to by the City. “Nuisance Residential Rental” complaints were issued as early as 2010.

Case Reports do show some housing inspection activity in 2012 and 2013, however.

The text of one complaint documents:

“NO POWER, DAMAGED SIDING AND WINDOWS, TRASH AND DEBRIS, NO GARBAGE SERVICE. Occupied property has been without water / and without ability to dispose of human waste (no sewer) since 4/13/11. Owner is aware.”

Perhaps now, a Housing Inspector from the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services will take another look at a house that neighbors say is a detriment to their quality of life – and to their personal safety.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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