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Homicide investigation launched after death of St. Helens man

Man succumbs to injuries from skull fracture that happened in Rainier more than a week prior

A major crimes team is trying to piece together how a 30-year-old St. Helens man's skull was fractured at a home on Whitney Road in Rainier Sunday, July 19.

Christopher Heller, 30, died earlier this week after spending more than a week in critical condition at a hospital in Vancouver, Wash.

According to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Heller was taken to the hospital by his mother Sunday evening, July 19.

Heller's mother called 9-1-1 around 5:45 p.m., saying she was taking her son to a hospital after finding him lying on the floor. She reported he was assaulted, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said Monday. The residential property also houses a business where Heller was being paid to do work, according to Dickerson.

Sheriff's deputies responded to the home, but got little cooperation from people there, Dickerson said.


“Based on their contact up there, they talked to a few people, determined they weren't gonna get anywhere without a search warrant, so, based on the investigation, deputies got a search warrant, then served it Wednesday morning with the help of the Major Crimes Team,” Dickerson explained.

Deputies served a search warrant at the home on Whitney Road on Wednesday, July 22. The warrant led to the arrest of 41-year-old Reid Lopossa of Rainier, for having existing warrants and being in possession of a stolen vehicle and methamphetamine, according to Sheriff's Office reports. That arrest was unrelated to the crime.

Dickerson said he was notified Wednesday of Heller's death, which is now being treated as a homicide investigation.

Several people of interest have been identified, he said.

"There are people who know things and there are people who did things," Dickerson said. "Nobody is coming forward yet to say who did it. We don't know yet how things all took place."

An autopsy is scheduled, but the results may not narrow down whether Heller's death was a homicide or an accident.

Personnel with the Columbia County Major Crimes Team are investigating the incident, with Columbia County Sheriff's Office being the lead agency.

“We're investigating as best we can, having no witnesses right now who can actually give us a full complete detail of what happened,” Dickerson said.

Note: This story has been edited to clarify when authorities were notified.