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Son leads police to presumed body of his missing mother

Stephen Bahl's attorney says suspect did no harm to mother, father


by: KATIE WILSON - The body of 91-year-old Frieda Bahl was discovered near the Columbia City home (above) she shared with her son Stephen Bahl.A Columbia City man accused of hastening his father’s death through neglect recently led investigators to what they believe is the body of his missing 91-year-old mother.

The body of Frieda Mae Bahl, last seen in 2010, was found buried in a wooded area off Smith Road near Columbia City not far from the home where 59-year-old Stephen Vincent Bahl lived and cared for his elderly parents.

His father, James Bahl, died from stroke-related complications in 2009. His mother was reported missing last May.

Columbia City Police Chief Michael McGlothlin said the presumed remains of Frieda Bahl were sent to the Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office for examination. The cause of death, as well as the identity of the body, is unknown at this time, although investigators believe the remains are those of Frieda Bahl. McGlothin was reluctant to discuss further details of the case until the body was positively identified.

“Stephen Bahl fully cooperated with law enforcement in the recovery of his mother’s body,” said Bahl’s defense attorney Paul Aubry in a statement to The Spotlight. “His mother, Frieda Bahl, died of natural causes. I expect the autopsy, physical evidence and statements of witnesses will eventually confirm this manner of death.”

“Stephen Bahl loved both his parents,” Aubry added. “(He) cared for them during their lives as best he could, given the circumstances.”

Both of the elderly Bahls suffered from severe dementia and relied entirely on their son for daily care, McGlothlin said.

Stephen Bahl was arrested in August. He pleaded not guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide and multiple counts of criminal mistreatment in connection with his father’s death, as well as 20 counts of first-degree theft. He has since been charged with six counts of unlawfully obtaining and using food stamps and six counts of unsworn falsification.

If the body is identified as his mother, Stephen Bahl could face additional charges, McGlothlin said.