No suspect identified in Mt. Hood National Forest double homicide
A double homicide in the Mt. Hood National Forest last week left two Estacada residents dead.
Stacy Jean Rickerd, 42, and Jeremy David Merchant, 43, were found by Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputies and law enforcement from the U.S. Forest Service at 9:45 a.m. Monday, Aug. 12, near a shooting pit not far from Road 4615 and the 130 Spur on the National Forest.
Authorities noted that the two died of "homicidal violence," though they have not released further details as of Tuesday's press time for the Estacada News.
Police found a dog at the scene, unhurt and alive. The animal was placed in the care of Clackamas County Dog Services before being returned to family members of the deceased.
Sgt. Marcus Mendoza, public information officer for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, told the Estacada News that a suspect has not been identified and noted that deputies are following up on tips.
"There is no indication there is a danger to the public at large," Mendoza wrote in an email, discussing the safety of the Mt. Hood National Forest in light of the incident. "I encourage people to come out and enjoy what Clackamas County has to offer."
A map of the Clackamas River Ranger District indicates that the crime scene, which police have processed and cleared, is approximately 12 miles from Estacada city limits and about six miles north of Highway 224. Road 4615, near where the incident occurred, is a continuation of Tumala Mountain Road.
Forest Service staff stated the area in which the crime took place does not have many developed recreational features.
A partner of one of Merchant and Rickerd's children told the Estacada News that the family had no comment and declined to answer further questions. She noted that relatives created a GoFundMe site for the children.
"It's with a (heaviest) heart that I ask for your help for my nephews and niece. Their parents were murdered in Estacada on Aug. 12th. The oldest is a young (adult) now caring for his teenage siblings and will need help for their day-to-day care as well as money for a celebration of life," wrote fundraiser creator Renee Rickerd on the website. "Stacy and Jeremy didnt have much, but what they did have they gladly shared with anyone who needed it."
As of Monday, Aug. 19, the fundraiser had garnered $1,138 in donations and 481 shares.
Several community members in Estacada expressed their sympathies to the family, though they didn't know Rickerd and Merchant, and noted that such acts of violence are an unusual occurrence in the area.
"It's upsetting because we don't know who did it. We don't know if we should be nervous," said Ellen Anderson, owner of the Artsmith. "That just doesn't happen here. We're just not used to it, and I don't want to get used to it."
DeDe Brittle, owner of the Mason Jar Cafe, described the incident as a "surreal thing."
"You never realize how things can happen close to home," Brittle said, noting that several customers at The Mason Jar had been anxious and curious about the incident, including wondering if it was safe to be outside. "If this would have happened in Portland, it would have been just another normal day. With the close-knit community in Estacada, there's a greater sense of shock."
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information to contact their Tip Line at 503-723-4949 or through the online email form. Reference CCSO Case #19-018794.
"Our detective are working diligently on this case. We are actively following up on tips," Mendoza said. "We are still seeking more tips from the public."
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