Others, however, claim the victim was Merrill, that Tracy later told the son of a Seattle tugboat captain he killed Merrill after reading in a Portland newspaper that Merrill tipped off Portland Police prior to their capture in 1899, and that as a reward, Merrill was given a lighter prison sentence. Another account indicated Tracy was angry that a Portland newspaper had given Merrill credit for being the brains and the moving force behind their prison escape.

Whatever the case, Tracy made his way alone to Seattle where he continued to pull off daring daylight robberies and thefts almost in defiance of the growing army of lawmen out to capture the elusive escapee -- dead or alive. In a gun battle near Bothel, Tracy killed two men and wounded two others. He also fatally wounded a policeman and a quartz miner in the community of Fremont.

Feeling the heat more intensely than ever, Tracy set off for Eastern Washington. With his reputation established and his face more easily recognized, he abandoned all pretense of being a Deputy in search of Harry Tracy. He was now identifying himself as Tracy. The courtesy he had shown farmers and their families for feeding and sheltering him and Merrill was now missing. He had become more demanding and more suspicious of everyone he met.

By August, Tracy had made his way through the Cascade Mountains to Creston in eastern Washington, about 50 miles west of Spokane. A youth named George Goldfinch, whom Tracy had taken hostage a few days earlier, sneaked away from his captor and hurried into Creston where he telegraphed the Sheriff at Davenport to inform him of Tracy's whereabouts.

But a railroad section boss overheard Goldfinch dictating a message to the telegraph operator and decided to form a posse of his own to capture Tracy. They headed to the ranch of L.B. Eddy, about three miles south of the community of Fellows, Wash., where Tracy had been working as a ranch hand.

When Tracy saw the posse, he grabbed his .30-30 rifle and began firing at the men while trying to run for cover behind some rocks. But Tracy was cut down by two returning shots. One bullet broke his leg, the other struck his thigh. Tracy tried desperately to escape, dragging his body through the rough grain field. But in a final act of desperation, knowing he would most certainly bleed to death, Tracy lifted his revolver to his head and pulled the trigger.

In a fraction of a second, Harry Tracy had fulfilled his vow: No lawman would take him alive.

His body was loaded onto a wagon and transported hundreds of miles to the Oregon State Penitentiary from which he escaped almost two months earlier. Tracy was buried, without fanfare, on Aug. 9, 1902, in a grave next to the one said to contain David Merrill. The graves have since been covered by cement and their location remains a mystery today.


At first glance, it looked like an accident. Mrs. Herman Rose was stretched out at the foot of the stairs, a pressure cooker laying next to her, with a dozen or more apples spread out all over the floor.

The ambulance crew summoned to the Rose's farm, five miles west of Woodburn, probably figured the poor housewife tripped coming down the narrow stairways with the pressure cooker full of apples. She apparently tumbled head over heals before reaching the bottom. The victim never regained consciousness at the hospital. She died the following day, Jan. 17, 1939.

But there was something about those deep gashes on the victim's face that convinced Marion County authorities that the woman did not die from an accidental fall. An autopsy confirmed their suspicions: the victim had been beaten to death with a round, blunt object, her skull fractured in several places.

Oregon State Police took over the investigation into the murder of the 50 year-old woman, with the assistance of Marion County Sheriff A.C. Burk and his men.

They first questioned the victim's family. Herman Rose said he had been out in the field with his son Charles, sowing grain. Daughter Helen, 18, was the first to find her mother's body. She had arrived home with a friend and neighbor who wanted to borrow some apples. Buford, the couple's other son, had left early that morning to go help another farmer and was with a bunch of his friends later that afternoon when he got word of his mother's death.

About the only thing any of them could add to the bizarre mystery was something Helen told police about her mother's last, dying words: "I fell .... pray for me."

But by now, State Police investigators knew the victim did not die from a fall. In all likelihood, she probably saw her attacker. Why didn't she tell her daughter that when she was slipping away, investigators asked themselves.

The family could think of no one who would want to harm Mrs. Rose. She had no real enemies, they told police. Robbery? The family had fallen on hard times and had to eke out a living, Herman Rose admitted with some embarrassment.

But investigators learned that Mrs. Rose had a life insurance policy worth $4,000 -- taken out just four weeks before her death.

State Police investigators returned to the Rose farm. They wanted to question family members further. They probed deeper into Charles Rose's alibi that he and his father were in the grain field all afternoon. But the younger Rose admitted that his father left at one point to go to the woodshed to chop firewood.

With this new piece of information, investigators began asking Herman Rose some probing questions. They asked him why it took so long to cut such a small amount of wood. The elder Rose couldn't give them an answer, but became perturbed by the questioning.

Then they found a khaki shirt in Rose's back closet -- covered with blood. Rose said he was always cutting or scraping himself.

Unsatisfied with his answers, police took him in to the Marion County Sheriff's Department for further questioning. All the while, Herman Rose maintained his innocence.

That gave Sheriff Burk an idea. He told Rose he could help prove his innocence by submitting to a simple blood test. Burk told Rose that by taking a sample of his blood and comparing it with his dead wife's blood, authorities could determine whether the blood stains on his khaki shirt were his or his wife's.

Rose thought for a minute. Then, realizing he was trapped, he confessed to his wife's murder. He said he and his son Charles left early that morning to sow grain, but he left Charles in the field while he returned to the woodshed to get an ax to clear a stump patch.

Instead, he walked back to the house, and, while his wife was working at the sewing machine, he picked up a piece of stove wood, walked back to the living room where she was sewing and hit her over the head. She asked him why he hit her, but he didn't answer --just struck her again. He said he picked her up off the floor and carded her to the stairs, where he pushed her lifeless body down a couple of steps before striking her two more times in the head.

Rose said he laid the pressure cooker next to her body and scattered apples all around the room to look like she had fallen coming down the stairs. He said he then burnt the stove wood, mopped up the blood around the sewing machine and went back into the field to rejoin his son.

Herman Rose never went to trial, however. The same night he signed his confession, Rose committed suicide in his cell by slashing his throat and arms with a double-edged razor blade.

Before he died, Rose scribbled a note addressed to his children. In it he claimed another woman was the cause of all their troubles and the cause for their mother's death.

A subsequent investigation absolved the woman of any guilt. Investigators were convinced in the end that Mrs. Rose's $4,000 insurance policy was the motive for her murder.


At first glance, Jerome Henry Brudos hardly fit the profile of a serial killer, the confessed murderer of three young Oregon women, and possibly a fourth who has never been found.

But a thorough investigation of Brudos' private life turned up some dark corners in the total picture of the supposedly mild-mannered, soft-spoken Salem man who was convicted and sentenced to life in the Oregon State Penitentiary for the strangulation deaths of Karen Sprinker, Linda Salee and Jan Whitney in late 1968 or early 1969.

Brudos had been committed to the Oregon State Hospital many years earlier after being taken into custody for threatening two girls and forcing them at knifepoint to disrobe so he could photograph them. He also was accused of stealing and wearing women's clothing, and Brudos later admitted he was wearing women's panties and pedal pushers when he staked out Sackett Hall, a girl's dormitory at the Oregon State University campus, looking for women.

One of his victims-- Karen Sprinker-was a student at Oregon State. The 19 year-old coed was supposed to meet her mother for lunch at the Meier & Frank Department Store in downtown Salem on March 27, 1969. But she never showed up.

Her car was found locked and abandoned on the store's rooftop parking lot later, but there was no trace of the girl.

About a month later, Linda Salee, 22, of Portland, disappeared while shopping at Portland's Lloyd Center Shopping Center for a birthday gift for her boyfriend. She was last seen walking out of a jewelry shop at about 5:30 p.m. that day. Her car was found later in the Lloyd Center parking garage where she had parked it on her arrival at the shopping center.

Sprinker and Salee joined a list of several young Oregon women who had mysteriously vanished during 1968 and 1969. One other name on the list was Jan Susan Whimey, a 23-year-old McMinnville woman who disappeared Nov. 26, 1968. Her car was located at a rest stop along the Interstate 5 freeway, just north of Albany.

Another missing girl was 19-year-old Linda K. Slawson, of Aloha, who was selling encyclopedias in a section of Portland when she vanished on Jan. 26, 1968. Brudos later would be charged with her murder.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Marion, Benton and Multnomah counties, as well as the FBI, had been searching for months to find any kind of lead on the missing women when a lone fisherman stumbled across the biggest find of his life. Sam Wallace had been looking for a fishing spot along the Long Tom River, 12 miles south of Corvallis, on May 10, 1969, when he spotted something unusual floating near the surface of the water. Looking closer, he discovered it was a human body. Wallace raced to his car and drove to the nearest gas station to call police.

Benton County Sheriff's deputies hurried to the river. The body had been tied, by nylon cord and copper wire, to a heavy automobile transmission and dumped into the fiver. Deputies removed the victim and later discovered she was Linda Salee, the Portland girl who had disappeared from Lloyd Center. On a hunch there may be more bodies nearby, reserve sheriff's divers dragged the river. Two days later, they found the body of Karen Sprinker -- only about 50 feet from where Salee's body was found. Sprinker's body also was weighted down, with the head of a 6-cylinder car engine. Nylon cord was used to tie the body to the engine.

Both victims were partially clothed when found. On April 22 -- the same day Linda Salee disappeared from Lloyd Center in Portland, a 15-year-old Salem girl on her way home from school was accosted by a man with a plastic gun who tried to force her into his car. The girl managed to break away from the man, who apparently panicked, climbed into his car and drove off.

That report was still on investigators' minds when they learned May 14 that an Oregon State coed had received a phone call from a man who identified himself as a Vietnam veteran. The man said he had learned a new method of study while he was a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center and asked if she would like to meet him to discuss it. She consented, but then became suspicious of the vet's intentions, especially after he told her he couldn't meet her for a date because he had to change the motor of his car. She called Corvallis Police detectives.

They suggested the coed accept a date with the man and meet him at her dorm on campus. They would be waiting when he arrived.

When the man arrived, detectives hustled him into a room and began questioning him.

Within a week, Marion County District Attorney Gary Gortmaker announced that Jerome H. Brudos, a 30-year-old Salem electrician, had been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. But the Grand Jury, meeting June 4, indicted Brudos on only one count of first-degree murder, in the death of Karen Sprinker. Brudos pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

It was later revealed, in an affidavit authorizing a search of Brudos' Salem home, that wire identical to the wire used to tie the victims to the car parts was found inside the residence, along with photos of nude and clothed women, women's clothes and lists of women's names, addresses and phone numbers. There were also notes on all sororities and women's living organizations at Oregon State. Some women on the list reportedly told police they received phone calls from a man claiming to be a Vietnam veteran and said he was lonely. Some said they even dated the man.

At the time of his arrest, Brudos was married and the father of two. Some of his friends described him as a devoted family man, who neither drank nor smoked, and rarely if ever used profanity.

Three days before he was scheduled to go to trial for the Sprinker murder, Brudos changed his plea to guilty to the three original murder charges, in the deaths of Karen Sprinker, Jan Whitney and Linda Salee. Brudos told Marion County Circuit Judge Val D. Sloper he strangled Sprinker with a rope and used a leather strap to strangle Whitney and Salee.

Sloper then sentenced Brudos to three consecutive life sentences in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Return to the Oregon Sheriffs Index Page