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Suspect in Utah bus station assault, Oregon murder captured

Published September 23, 2012 12:41 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Lake Oswego, Ore. • A white supremacist accused of fatally stabbing an Oregon man and slashing the face of another man at a Utah bus station was arrested Saturday in Corvallis, authorities said.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said a tip led investigators to Corvallis, where they spotted 37-year-old Erik John Meiser walking down a street. Sheriff's deputies and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him at gunpoint and without incident at a Super 8 motel.

"We're thrilled to have him in custody," Roberts said at a news conference.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Meiser was staying at the hotel, and investigators hoped to figure out whether anyone helped him evade police.

The capture ends a nearly week-long manhunt that spanned the West Coast. Police earlier identified Meiser as the suspect in the Sept. 17 stabbing death of Fredrick "Fritz" Hayes at his home just outside the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego.

Authorities in Ogden, Utah, also have an arrest warrant for Meiser that accuses him of aggravated assault on Sept. 8. Ogden police said the victim's face was "severely slashed" with a razor-style knife and needed treatment at a hospital.

Meiser was in the custody of Clackamas County sheriff's deputies and was to be brought to the jail, where he will be placed on suicide watch, which is standard procedure for people charged with a serious felony, said Sgt. Adam Phillips, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

Hayes' death in an affluent neighborhood terrified neighbors, and much of metro Portland was on heightened alert for the bearded man that police called dangerous.

Authorities said Meiser had a long criminal history in several states. Records show Meiser has an arrest record in eight states that stretches back more than 20 years, though none of the crimes were in Oregon or Utah.

They included assault, battery, burglary, disorderly conduct, drug possession, ethnic intimidation, making obscene phones calls, trespass, theft and vandalism.

Meiser has white supremacist tattoos, including one on his knuckles that spells out "Neo Nazi."

Hayes died in front of his wife, Margaret, during a confrontation with a burglar at their home. Margaret Hayes, who was not injured, told officers the attacker was armed with at least two knives.

Investigators have found no link between Meiser and the couple. Fritz Hayes was a recently retired information technology professional who also worked as an official for high school lacrosse games.

Public records indicate Meiser, when not behind bars, spent much of his life in Minnesota. Neighbors at a St. Paul address where Meiser lived in the 1990s said they couldn't remember him with certainty, but referred to the place where he lived as a "drug house."