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Cops say Gresham murder case comes back to a shady ice cream truck deal

It's a case that just gets stranger by the day.

The suspect - Tremayne A. Durham, 31 - is a New York sex offender looking to buy a custom-made ice cream truck from a Portland man who Durham says took his money and ran.

The victim - Adam D. Calbreath, 39, of Gresham - found himself caught in the middle of the botched business deal. When Calbreath failed to help Durham get his money back, Durham allegedly murdered Calbreath by shooting him in the head.

Two days later, on June 15, officers found Calbreath's body in his Gresham apartment.

Durham's true target - victim No. 2 - managed to talk Durham out of killing him after Durham tracked him down at his new home in Parkrose on June 25. The victim even convinced Durham to let him go to buy some vehicle parts, but instead he called police who arrested Durham.

Next, according to court documents, Durham used his girlfriend to deliver the victim a message: Drop the charges or end up dead.

Then on Saturday, July 22, Multnomah County sheriff's corrections deputies discovered that Durham tried to break his cell's fifth-story window and planned to use a braided bed sheet to scale down the jail wall.

Durham is now being held without bail in a solitary cell. Last week, a Multnomah County grand jury indicted him on 33 counts, including seven counts of aggravated murder, two counts of first-degree robbery with a firearm, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, 14 counts of first-degree burglary with a firearm, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of menacing with a firearm, two counts of coercion and two counts of pointing a firearm at another.

His girlfriend - Vanessa Davis, 46, of New York - also is being held at the Inverness Jail on $15,000 bail on charges of coercion and tampering with a witness.

It's no wonder Gresham Police Sgt. Jeff Hansen said the case has more twists and turns than just about any he's worked on.

'Usually the victim of a homicide is the focus of the retaliation,' Hansen said. In this case, Durham reportedly contacted Calbreath, who represented the ice cream truck business, to convince him to help Durham get his money back. '… (The Parkrose man) was the focal point the whole time.'

Business deal goes bad

According to court records, it all started in January when Durham hired a Portland man to build him an ice cream truck. Durham, who was convicted of first-degree rape in New York in 1992 and is a registered sex offender, paid the man $17,800 in cash and returned to New York.

They remained in touch over the phone and even discussed going into business together, but eventually opted against it.

The victim told police he stopped hearing from Durham in April and contacted Durham's grandmother in an effort to get in touch with Durham. The next day, Durham called the victim back. Durham said his brother was in trouble with loan sharks and that he needed the ice cream truck money back to help his brother.

Several phone calls later, Durham admitted the story about his brother was a lie - he was just worried about his money and what the victim was doing with it.

The phone calls dropped off, but the victim did get a call from Durham in which Durham accused the victim of ducking his calls.

In May, the victim moved from his Southeast Portland home to Parkrose. He didn't list his new address on his Web site but did transfer his phone numbers. He told police he didn't talk to Durham again.

In June, Durham returned to Portland looking for the victim, but was unable to find him. Durham allegedly went to Calbreath's apartment on June 13, hoping that Calbreath, described as one of the victim's associates, would help him find the victim.

Instead, Durham allegedly shot the man in the head.

Surprise delivery

Ten days after police found Calbreath's body, the victim heard someone ring the doorbell at his Parkrose home. The person at the door said he had a delivery from a company the victim uses for his business.

He opened the door and was met by Durham pointing a large revolver at him. Durham's finger was on the trigger and the victim could see hollow point bullets in the chambers of the cylinder - the same kind of bullet that killed Calbreath.

'Don't make me kill you,' Durham reportedly told the victim while forcing him back into the house. Durham demanded his money. The victim pleaded with Durham not to kill him. He managed to persuade Durham to sit with him in the kitchen and talk.

While Durham continued to hold the man at gunpoint and demand his money, the victim explained that he didn't have the money at home. He'd have to go to the bank.

Because it was a Sunday, he couldn't get the money until the next day. The victim convinced Durham to put the gun in his pocket. He also convinced him to let him leave the house to buy parts so he wouldn't get behind schedule on a vehicle he was working on.

After Durham let the victim out of the house, the victim called police, who surrounded the house and watched Durham hide something under a hedge in the backyard. Officers arrested Durham and recovered the hidden item, a loaded .357 Ruger Blackhawk pistol - described by crime lab technicians as consistent with having fired the bullet that killed Calbreath.

At that time, police charged Durham with seven counts of robbery, kidnapping, burglary, menacing and unlawful use of a weapon in connection to the Parkrose crimes.

With Durham in jail, Gresham Police Department and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office detectives traveled to New York to investigate whether Durham was involved in Calbreath's murder.

Meanwhile, Durham allegedly directed his girlfriend to intimidate the victim into dropping the charges against Durham.

She told the victim that Durham 'has connections' and that if Durham wanted to have him killed, he wouldn't do it himself.

The victim asked if something would happen to him if he didn't drop the charges. Davis replied, 'It might not be you, it might be your mother, it might be your son.'

She also repeatedly told the man, 'It doesn't end here,' and that she wasn't threatening the man, just delivering a message for Durham.

After that, the victim refused to stay at his Parkrose home. He remains concerned that Durham will try to harm him or contact someone who will.

Police arrested Davis on July 1 at the Justice Center Jail when she tried to pay another visit to Durham.

On Monday, July 17, detectives presented additional evidence linking Durham to Calbreath's murder to a grand jury. The jury returned with a 33-count indictment against Durham, including seven counts of aggravated murder involving Calbreath and a count of first-degree burglary with a firearm in the Parkrose case.

The fine print reads that Durham entered the victim's house intending to murder him.