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I thought they were going to kill me

Court document reveals details in violent kidnapping attempt
by: vern uyetake Gert Boyle file photo.

Gert Boyle thought she was going to die when a man forced his way into her West Linn home and assaulted and robbed her in a violent kidnapping attempt last year.

As a result, the 87-year-old chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear has lost her sense of personal safety and her independence, according to a five-page victim's statement filed at the Clackamas County Courthouse last week.

'No words now are adequate to reverse the memories of that night or give me my treasured and ordinary life back,' Boyle wrote in the statement, describing the way her life has changed since she thwarted the invasion of her Wildwood Drive house.

Three suspects face charges in the case, which began the evening of Nov. 10, when a man approached Boyle's vehicle as she pulled into her garage. He forced her into her house at gunpoint, but she triggered a silent panic alarm while pretending to turn off her security system.

When police arrived, the robber bolted, jumping 20 to 30 feet from a deck down a steep drop to Hidden Springs Drive before fleeing into a ravine. Later that night, West Linn officers apprehended Nestor Gabriel Caballero Gutierrez on Highway 43.

Soon after, they arrested two others accused of being accomplices. Investigators said the trio planned to kidnap Boyle for ransom.

While court and jail documents have described aspects of their plot, few details have been available about exactly what transpired in Boyle's garage and home that night.

Her victim's statement provides some of the first public information about the events as they unfolded.

Boyle wrote that few know about the indignities she suffered during the 'violent encounter' that night. Among the details revealed:

-- She said the robber 'repeatedly shoved me into the wall, against the car and onto the ground, shouting 'don't look at me'. I recently had my second hip replacement surgery, and I feared I would not be able to get up.'

-- 'He reached around my face and shoved a necktie in my mouth, injuring the inside of my mouth. He violently grabbed my face and mouth in an attempt to shut me up, injuring my lips and face while shouting at me.'

-- 'He held something on the back of my neck, which I soon realized was a gun, and tied my hands behind my back with a rope. It had loops around my wrist and another piece that he held on to - like a control string.'

-- 'He shoved me to the garage floor ground face first.'

-- 'He told me that he had people waiting outside to help him. I thought they were going to kill me.'

-- 'Once inside the house, he demanded we go to my bedroom, and he continued pushing me and forced me at gunpoint upstairs to my bedroom where he ordered me to take off my clothes.' Police arrived before that happened.

-- He told me that if the security people come - not to tell them he was there or he would shoot me. He said, 'I promise you, I'll shoot you!' I believed him.'

-- He shouted constantly at me, demanding my jewelry, my safe and ordering and shoving me in the house - all while yanking on the 'control string' to keep me from going in front of windows in my house.'

-- 'When the doorbell rang and the police knocked, we were still in the bedroom, and he indicated that if I told the 'security guard' he was there, he'd shoot me and kill me. I ran to the front door to save my own life because I thought I would not survive if I did not.'

Known by many for turning Columbia Sportswear into a booming business after taking charge of the company following her husband's death in 1970 - and for her trademark attitude in the company's 'One Tough Mother' advertising campaign and her book - Boyle wrote that she does not feel like a hero, as past media coverage of the case might suggest.

'I am not a hero,' she said. 'I am a victim, just like the many other victims of vicious crimes that terrorize and damage people permanently every day around the country.'

Before the attack, Boyle said she enjoyed the 'simple routines' of life: going to the store, dining out with friends, 'enjoying my independence and the comfort of my home.'

She lived in the Wildwood Drive house for 24 of the 57 years she has spent in West Linn. However, since the night of the crime, she hasn't returned except to gather her belongings.

'I don't feel safe living alone, and I no longer am able to enjoy the simple freedoms of everyday life,' she wrote. 'At age 87, being forced out of my home and community and changing the comfort of daily habits is horribly disruptive and depressing.'

She no longer feels safe driving alone and has given up that facet of her 'freedom and independence - something that has always defined me, she said.

'My ability to make decisions on my own has been diminished, and my dependence on others has grown for everything from transportation to scheduling to housing, which is in part owing to the fact that this event has also made me hesitant and insecure about interactions with people not well known to me.

'This has never been me. These criminals maliciously altered my life, and I am just sick about it every day.'

Last week, one of the accused accomplices, Jose Luis Arevalo, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, burglary and robbery charges after a settlement conference with a Clackamas County judge. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to testify against the other two suspects. His sentencing has been delayed until those cases are resolved. He remains under an immigration at the county jail.

On Monday, Caballero Gutierrez rejected a plea agreement offer. His trial has been set to begin April 7, Clackamas County Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Horner said.

Another alleged accomplice, Ramon Alberto Midence, is accused of driving Caballero Gutierrez to Boyle's home. Though he was at the courthouse this week for a settlement conference, he did not accept a plea deal.

His case will go to trial along with Caballero Gutierrez's unless he pleads guilty sometime before the trial begins, Horner said.

Past West Linn Tidings coverage of the attempted kidnapping of Gert Boyle:

'Columbia Sportswear's Gert Boyle held at gunpoint in home': http://westlinntidings.com/news/story.php?story_id=128950299003364600

'Two more arrested in Boyle home-invasion assault': http://westlinntidings.com/news/story.php?story_id=128993747846620100

'Armed robbery thwarted by 'One Tough Mother'': http://westlinntidings.com/news/story.php?story_id=129001731600832100

'Hillsboro police helps in West Linn's Gert Boyle investigation': http://westlinntidings.com/news/story.php?story_id=129062479882621300

'Man pleads guilty in kidnapping case': http://westlinntidings.com/news/story.php?story_id=130092365117486900