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Meiser no longer a white supremacist, attorney says

Suspect faces six counts of aggravated murder in LO home-invasion case


Erik John Meiser, accused in the brutal murder of a retired Lake Oswego man Sept. 17, no longer fancies himself a white supremacist or neo-Nazi, his attorneys said Friday, when he was arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

Meiser, 37, who appeared on a live video feed from Clackamas County Jail, is accused of killing Frederick “Fritz” Hayes, 57, a recently retired high-tech engineer and longtime Lake Oswego resident.by: SUBMITTED - Erik John Meiser

He faces six counts of aggravated murder, two counts of first-degree robbery and one count each of first- and second-degree burglary. He is being held without bail.

His attorneys said they weren’t prepared to enter a plea on his behalf last week.

“We’re very concerned about his mental condition,” said Jenny Cooke, who is representing Meiser with Robert Huggins.

She added that she is worried the community’s perception of Meiser’s background could threaten his right to a fair trial. She counted more than 230 mentions of his case on the Internet that referred to him as a self-proclaimed white supremacist or noted a tattoo spelling “NAZI” across the knuckles of his left hand.

But Meiser is now married to a Jewish woman, and they’re raising their children in the Jewish faith, Cooke said. During the hearing, she asked Meiser to show the backs of his hands to the courtroom.

“The tattoos have been inked over,” Cooke said afterward. “They’ve been inked over since 2003.”

She declined to say where the wife and children live.

A federal court document filed during a nationwide manhunt revealed a few new details about the alleged killer.

Meiser has family ties in California, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota and Utah, according to an affidavit filed by the FBI. Investigators discovered that Meiser had a wife, Kiva, and two children in Oak Park, Calif., when speaking with an aunt in Minnesota. Apparently he had been calling his aunt almost daily, including on Sept. 20, when authorities announced they had obtained a warrant for his arrest.

She described telling her nephew she was “afraid for him,” worrying he’d end up shot and killed. She told investigators that Meiser was not estranged from his wife, who attempted to call a police tip line on Sept. 21, according to court records.

Meiser was arrested at gunpoint Sept. 22 outside of a Super 8 motel in Corvallis.

He has a criminal history stretching back years and crossing 10 states, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation.

According to the FBI affidavit, he was arrested Aug. 11 in Ventura, Calif., on a warrant for vandalism. He is also wanted in Ogden, Utah, on suspicion of slashing a man with a knife or razor several times.

Fritz Hayes was attacked by an intruder with a machete and a knife at his house on Atwater Road, in an unincorporated pocket of Clackamas County, when he and his wife, 56-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Hayes, returned from an early morning walk Sept. 17. He died in his wife’s arms in the driveway outside of their home, where they raised their three children over the past 25 years. His wife was not injured in the attack.

Authorities said they linked Meiser to evidence in the area, including a bloody machete found near the crime scene and a bicycle someone attempted to steal from a residence about a half-mile away. He is also accused of burglarizing a martial arts studio on North State Street.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 22.