Public keeps sharp eye out for murderer of Fritz Hayes

The citizens of Lake Oswego were on the lookout for a murder suspect following the killing of Fritz Hayes at his own home on Sept. 17.

About three dozen calls were made to the Lake Oswego Police Department from people sighting possible suspects in the homicide, according to LOPD Capt. Dale Jorgensen.

The suspects — mostly tall, thin, bearded men — were reported at many places, doing various activities. Some of the examples were:

  • A tall man in his 20s wearing a leprechaun tall hat, carrying a duffel bag and looking stressed.

  • A medium-size man about age 50 wandering around Banner Bank on A Avenue. He turned out to be a painter.

  • A skinny man with long black hair, riding a girl’s bike that was too small for him down Kruse Way.

  • A tall, thin man wearing a plaid shirt, age about 28.

  • A possible suspect in the parking lot of the New Seasons Market parking lot.

  • A man who “looked just like the suspect” wearing green shorts and army boots.

    Other “suspects” were seen waiting at bus stops, driving down Boones Ferry Road, wearing a facemask, asking a woman for money, riding bikes, riding skateboards and hiding in the Woodmont Natural Area.

    Apparently, none of the tall, thin, bearded men seen was the murder suspect. That was John Erik Meiser, who was surprised and arrested by law enforcement officers on Saturday in Corvallis. Still, all the reports called in were taken seriously by the LOPD.

    “We checked every call,” Jorgensen said. “We talked to numerous people in relation to every call.”

    Although Jorgensen noted, “Lake Oswego is not really a small town,” the murder of a man in an upscale neighborhood just off Country Club Road sent a shockwave through the community, and people were extremely vigilant after a sketch of the suspect was released in area newspapers and television stations. But identifying the right suspect was difficult.

    “It was really a who-dunnit,” said Jorgensen. “There are not that many who-dunnits, because in 70 percent of murder cases the suspect and the victim know each other and the suspect can be identified early. An example would be the double homicide that occurred here when the suspect (allegedly) shot his mother and nephew.”

    However, all tips are valuable to law enforcement departments. It was a tip that resulted in Meiser’s capture in Corvallis.

    “Tips are what drive an investigation,” Jorgensen said.

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