Police: Deserter jailed in E. Oregon killing, attack

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PORTLAND — A deserter from the Marine Corps has been captured in Pendleton and accused of the killing of an Eastern Oregon hotel employee in 2012 and the beating of a woman on a riverside trail earlier this month, authorities said Thursday.

Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said 23-year-old Lukah Pobzeb Chang is accused of murder and attempted murder.

Chang was captured Wednesday at the local convention center. Roberts said he'd been hiding there for about a week, stealing meals from a food-service company's leftovers and sleeping in a crawl space above a ceiling.

Before the attack Aug. 9 on 53-year-old Karen Lange, Pendleton officers knew of Chang among the homeless population and had cited him for offenses such as trespassing. He gave a false name.

Since then, Roberts said, police found that DNA from the galvanized pipe used to beat Lange matched that on a knife found at the scene of the Aug. 14, 2012 killing of Amyjane Brandhagen. She worked in a hotel across the street from the Pendleton City Hall.

Roberts said the suspect cooperated with officers Thursday night and told them he'd left Camp Pendleton, a Marines base in southern California. He said Marine Corps authorities confirmed Chang had deserted.

"He was perfectly polite, articulate, all those things," Roberts said.

A spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Lt. Ryan Finnegan, said Thursday that a person by Chang's name is listed as a deserter. Finnegan said he didn't immediately have other details about him.

Roberts said Chang is from Morganton, N.C., had been in the Marine Corps four years, left California on a bus last year and ran out of money in Eastern Oregon.

Chang's initial appearance in court would be Thursday or Friday, Roberts said.