Was it murder in Mill Park? Detectives look into fight-related death

Two men weren’t fighting about money, drugs, booze‚ nor woman‚ word is, they were beefing over an apartment complex parking space. See exclusive photos here‚

Distraught friends and family members gather outside the complex shortly after the incident.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though it’s bitter cold, relatives and friends of 39-year-old Robert Duerksen gather in the darkness on the north side of SE Division St., just south of SE 130th Avenue.

Some were crying, others shrieking, still others comforting and calming those distraught by Duerksen’s sudden death. “It’s not right,” a young lady loudly cried out, “you can’t just kill someone like that.”

Authorities are uncertain what, exactly, was caused 39-year-old Robert Duerksen to die.

Called on a fight
On March 27, at 7:45 pm, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers roll to the 12900 block of SE Division St. They expect to be breaking up a fight in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

But, when officers arrive, they discover the body of a 39-year-old white male who had apparently collapsed during the fight. Medical personnel race to the scene and attempt to revive him. However, Duerksen is pronounced dead at the scene.

Parking spot fisticuffs
“Parking here is really tight,” says a man who claims to be familiar with the apartment complex. “I’ve seen other fights break out over a parking spot.”

It doesn’t take long for police to finger Duerksen’s neighbor, 33-year-old Christopher Michael Jordan, as the other party involved in the fight.

“While the subjects were fighting,” Portland Police’s spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, “Duerksen reportedly collapsed and began to complain of a breathing problem. Duerkson was helped into an apartment where he lost consciousness and died.”

Police say this man, Christopher Michael Jordan, was the individual with whom Duerksen was fighting‚ over a parking space‚ when he died.

Unregistered sex offender with drug warrant
During the subsequent investigation, Schmautz reports, detectives contact and arrest Jordon on an outstanding drug warrant and a new charge‚ “Failing to Register as a Sex Offender”.  Jordon was booked into the Justice Center Jail.

Homicide classification pending tox report
The following day, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner conducts an autopsy. The report comes back inconclusive; the investigation is unable to determine a cause of death.

See the cones? Police say the brief-yet-deadly fight started and ended at that spot.

Duerksen’s death has been classified as a Homicide pending the results of the toxicology examination.

Detectives do not believe there are any additional suspects in this continuing investigation.  Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Lynn Courtney at (503) 823-0451 or Detective Steve Ober at (502) 823-4033.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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