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Aaron D. Christopher faces allegations after police say a dead person burned at Portland homeless camp

BOOKING PHOTO VIA KOIN - Aaron ChristopherPortland police officers have arrested a man in connection with the death of another person at a transient camp.

Officers found the deceased person in the Madison South neighborhood near Northeast 78th Avenue and Schuyler Street around 5 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, according to a news release. Officers detained Aaron David Christopher, 40, a short while later in the 6500 block of Northeast Halsey Street.

The name of the victim has not been released by authorities.

The probable cause affidavit, which was filed by the Multnomah County district attorney's office on Thursday, stated that officers headed to the scene of a homeless encampment after a woman called 911 screaming "he killed him, he burned him."

When they arrived, they found the woman in the homeless encampment nearby, which is also near the freeway, and the woman told them she knew the victim and Christopher, who were both homeless, and that they had had "various arguments" that morning.

She allegedly told officers she had left the camp to clear her head for about 30 to 45 minutes, but when she returned, she noticed someone had started a fire and there was lots of smoke, and that Christopher was standing over the fire pit, which had a number of tree branches on top of the pit. She then told officers when she approached the fire pit, "she also saw a hand sticking out from under the wood of the pit," according to the court documents, which added she saw Christopher ran away after she had tried to prevent him from running away.

The woman also told police that Christopher told her another camper named "Shawn" was responsible, but she told officers the other man "was harmless and would never hurt anyone," according to the affidavit.

When an officer went to the fire pit, they found the body of the victim had been "badly burned" on portions of their body, according to the court documents.

"The smoldering was coming from the head area and the body's arms were raised toward the head," according to the affidavit, which stated police also noticed the body had "cut or puncture wounds" on the victim's left side. A knife with blood was also allegedly found.

Christopher, 40, was quickly found by officers, according to the court document, and that as officers approached him, he dropped a jacket he was carrying.

Christopher was arrested by officers, and then allegedly told officers "his friend's girlfriend told him to leave because it was too crazy," according to the affidavit.

Officers allegedly found "several knives" on Christopher, along with a lighter and a small can of WD-40, which is a potential accelerant. Police said they also found what they believe is a makeshift fire poker out of a PVC pipe with a knife blade attached, and that one end of it "was charred and partially melted."

Christopher has now been booked on charges of second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, records show.

Christopher, who had a listed address in Oregon City in recent years, was convicted of first-degree burglary in January 2018, and had 17 felony convictions on his record, including for failing to register as a sex offender, per court documents.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.

Zane Sparling
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