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Prosecutors say Damian Belander went on a violent spree prior before and after the killing, claiming Bodle stole the van he was later found near

By Newberg Graphic news staff

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The Dayton resident arrested in the January murder of a Newberg man in Washington will appear in court today (May 8) for a hearing on his possible extradition.

Damian Bradley Belander, 22, was already in custody on a pair of unrelated Yamhill County cases when Washington sought his extradition.

The Skamania County Sheriff's Office obtained an arrest warrant for his role in the killing of Brian Bodle, 24, of Newberg, after an autopsy determined that Bodle died of homicidal violence.

Bodle was identified by the sheriff's office as the man found dead on Jan. 24 near a burned minivan at the junction of two U.S. Forest Service roads approximately six miles east of Cougar, Wash.

Belander has been charged with second-degree intentional murder and felony murder. A warrant for his arrest was issued March 13 and says Belander "willfully fled from the justice of the state of Washington and has been found in the county of Yamhill, state of Oregon.

In Washington, a conviction of second-degree murder and felony murder are Class A felonies punishable with life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Belander, held in the Yamhill County jail, is also slated to appear May 16 in Yamhill County Circuit Court for a trial readiness hearing for various felonies he is alleged to have committed prior to the murder. The roughly 20 charges against him include several counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree kidnapping, unlawful use of a weapon, recklessly endangering another person and others, including misdemeanors. The charges stem from an incident that took place Jan. 21 when Belander allegedly shot at a motor home in an attempted robbery before assaulting his mother's boyfriend, Lafayette resident Joshua Lewis, with a crowbar.

Sheriff's office investigation follows Belander to Yamhill County

Washington authorities sought Belander in connection with Bodle's murder after finding a burned license plate adjacent to the 2002 Chrysler Voyager van near Bodle's body. A records search revealed that the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office was preparing to serve a warrant on Belander in connection with the shooting and robbery involving the same minivan a few days earlier.

According to an affidavit filed by Skamania County Sheriff's Detective Jeremy Schultz, he identified the license plate as being from a van registered to Lewis.

The affidavit states sheriff's deputies contacted the Newberg-Dundee Police Department and learned that the minivan and Belander were involved in the robbery, shooting and alleged assault on Lewis.

Deputy's affidavit details scene of the murder

Notes from Schultz's investigation said it appeared that Bodle's body had been dragged from the van nearly 30 feet into the woods. Because of the time they discovered the body, deputies weren't able to process the scene until the following day.

Bodle only had a few coins on him when he was found, as well as a crucifix necklace.

Bodle was later identified following an autopsy in Vancouver, Wash. The medical examiner determined that he had suffered a skull fracture via three distinct strikes and that was consistent with blunt force trauma mentioned in earlier reports. The wounds, the investigation found, were similar to those Lewis sustained when Belander allegedly attacked him.

Inside the van, police found several burned items, including a tire iron. Fire investigators determined the fire likely started in the van's passenger compartment behind the driver's seat.

Belander's whereabouts questioned prior to the murder

Mount Angel resident Breanna Teafatiller, who knew both Belander and Bodle, said Belander told her the day prior to the murder that Bodle had stolen the van while Belander was using the bathroom at an undisclosed location in Portland. Teafatiller told deputies she gave Bodle $200 to purchase narcotics. However, after Bodle's vehicle was towed by Mount Angel police, she summoned Belander via Facebook and asked him to give Bodle a ride. Belander agreed to give Bodle a ride if Bodle paid for gas, the report states. Teafatiller never saw Bodle after that.

After Belander was arrested on the robbery charge in Yamhill County, Skamania County deputies interviewed him and he allegedly denied driving the van or knowing the location of Skamania County. He also allegedly denied being in Portland in the past few months, denied knowing Bodle, denied the assault on Lewis took place and that Lewis owned the van.

A former girlfriend of Belander's who was interviewed by police said Belander asked her to call his mother and tell her the van had been stolen. Additionally, she commented that he told her he gave an unknown friend a ride, who then stole the van. She said she knew the van belonged to Belander's mother and that he drove it.

Based off video surveillance of the area, a minivan closely resembling the Chrysler Voyager Belander was alleged to have driven was seen on Jan. 23 driving toward the Forest Service road where the burned vehicle and Bodle's body was found. Preceding the van was a dark-colored sedan which was later seen returning.

Arrest in Yamhill County on separate charges

Prior to the Jan. 31 arrest, Belander was also involved in a separate Jan. 24 incident, the same day Bodle's body was discovered in Washington. Belander was charged with second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon for his alleged attack on Lewis with a crowbar. Court documents said Belander complained to his mother that she had interceded on Lewis' behalf: "You shouldn't have tried to defend him -- I needed to finish the job," Belander allegedly told his mother in a Facebook message.

The court documents also said that Lewis had been upset over the death of his own mother and had threatened both Belander and Belander's mother.

Allegations mount against Belander

In a separate incident, Belander allegedly used a pistol to steal from two people and then kidnap them. Belander is also charged as being a felon in possession of a firearm, a charge that stems from a 2016 felony conviction for assaulting a public safety officer and for a conviction for fourth-degree assault in 2015. He had a firearm in those instances and was barred from possessing one after his conviction.

Later the same day of the Yamhill County incident, a court document states that Belander fired at the motorhome of a different person, which "did unlawfully and reckless create a substantial risk of serious physical risk of serious injury" to the person in the mobile home.

Later that same night, he allegedly recklessly endangered two other individuals with the firearm. He also shot at and damaged a shop building, it is alleged.

Victim and perpetrator likely knew each other

Skamania County Undersheriff Pat Bond had previously stated it was likely Belander and Bodle knew each other.

Bodle was known by local authorities and had a history of criminal activity. A probable cause affidavit filed in Washington stated Bodle was "well known in the narcotics community as a dealer and had recently made some transactions which aggravated the buyers."

A court report said Skamania County sheriff's detectives had determined that Bodle had also been pulled over recently by Mount Angel police. Teafatiller was a passenger in the vehicle and told police she knew Bodle and Belander through an ex-boyfriend, who had spent time in prison with both of them.

Report says victim struggling with drug addiction

Once police tracked down Bodle's family, the affidavit states that Bodle's mother said her son had been struggling with a heroin addiction for several years, going in and out of treatment four times. She finally kicked him out of the house after he returned from treatment and the family caught him preparing to take drugs. The family had not seen or heard from Bodle since Thanksgiving 2018, the report said.

"She also advised me they had wondered several times when someone was going to come to their house advising (that) he was deceased due to the choices and people he associated with," Schultz said in the affidavit.

Bodle had his share of run-ins with the Newberg-Dundee Police Department as well. According to court documents, he was last arrested in February 2017 for possession of heroin, resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer after a traffic stop on Dayton Avenue. The arresting officer, according to a probable cause affidavit, found drugs and paraphernalia on Bodle during a search.

A Yamhill County grand jury returned an indictment against Bodle several days later, accusing him of unlawful possession of heroin, a felony, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to the possession charge in March 2017 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and to pay nearly $1,100 in attorney fees and fines. In exchange for his guilty plea, the resisting arrest charge was dropped.


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