Man charged in Centennial murder

Neighbors in outer East Portland wonder aloud about their safety, living near the care facility where this strangulation murder took place …

For almost two months, a strangulation murder in this Centennial neighborhood residential care facility was kept quiet from everyone, including the now-worried neighbors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Neighbors along outer SE Powell Boulevard say they’re concerned about the Cameron Care Center in their neighborhood, where a female patient, 46-year-old Cam-Huyen Tran Cao, was found strangled to death in her room on May 17 – a crime that wasn’t publicly revealed until mid-July.

“People seem to wander in and out of the buildings there, but stay in the fenced yard,” remarked neighbor Will Peterson, adding. “The place is kept up well.”

It’s unclear why Cam-Huyen Tran Cao was in the residential care facility, but how she died finally came to light. Photo from internet-posted obituary.

A long-time resident of the Centennial Community Group neighborhood, Peterson said he was surprised – “No, I was ‘shocked’” – to find out that his home was so near a mental illness care facility. “We thought is was just an adult foster care home,” he told East Portland News.

The news of the death became public on July 15, when Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced his filing of a single count charging 57-year-old Roger Justice Jones in the alleged murder of Huyen Cao.

According to Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) records, Jones was booked into jail on the Class A Felony Murder charge three days earlier, on July 12, at 1:19 p.m.

According to the DA’s charging document, Jones “unlawfully and intentionally caused the death of Ms. Cao”.

This investigation started on May 17, when employees at the Cameron Care facility located Cao unresponsive inside her room, according to court documents.  Employees called 9-1-1, but medical personnel determined Cao was “deceased on scene”, a probable-cause affidavit states.

Police come to speak with, and arrest, the strangulation murder suspect.

On May 18, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office concluded Cao died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation, and determined her death to be the result of homicidal violence.

During the investigation, court documents state that law enforcement obtained video that shows a person, later identified as Jones, entering and leaving Cao’s room, according to court documents. The video shows Jones entering the room on two separate occasions about ten minutes apart.

When Portland Police Bureau officers talked with Jones on the day of his arrest, the affidavit filed by Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Nicole Hermann states that Jones did admit to choking Cao.

Having experienced five felony convictions in the pact, 57-year-old Roger Justice Jones now faces trial for a sixth felony.

A search of public records shows that Jones has five felony convictions, two misdemeanors, and five probation or parole violations – including, in 1998, being found “Guilty, Except for Insanity, on charges of Burglary and Abuse of a Corpse”.

The company that owns the care facility, Cameron Care, Inc., operates several such residential facilities, three of them clustered in outer East Portland.

The company didn’t respond to a telephone inquiry; their website has only very brief information about the company, other than to state, “Cameron Care is a transitional program that provides residential care and treatment for adults with mental illness.”

Neighbors now wonder if they should be concerned about their safety.

Neighbor Peterson also said he had “no idea” that that Cameron Care operates two additional facilities nearby, at 10011 SE Division Street and 12667 SE Boise Street. All of the facilities are licensed by the State of Oregon.

Hearing about Jones’ criminal background, Peterson put his face in hands. “To say I’m dismayed that the judicial system puts criminals like him into our neighborhood, is an understatement.”

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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