PORTLAND — Four men, all affiliated with an outlaw motorcycle gang, are facing murder charges in the death of a man whose body was found in Ridgefield last summer, police announced Wednesday.
Robert Lee Huggins’ body was found by loggers in an open field on July 1. Investigators said it appeared that the 56-year-old’s body was dumped there, about 100 feet south of 179th Street. Investigators learned of a suspect that same day, but it took detectives from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau nearly 10 months to build a case against those believed involved.
Mark Dencklau, 56, of Woodburn, Ore.; Earl Fisher, 47, of Gresham, Ore.; Tiler Pribbernow, 34, of Portland; and Malichi Watkins, 32, of Camas are each expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to police.
Dencklau and Fisher were arrested Wednesday. Pribbernow and Watkins already were behind bars for other reasons: Watkins is in Stafford Creek Corrections Center for failing to register as a sex offender, while Pribbernow is in a Portland jail for a suspected parole violation.
Police said that on Wednesday they also arrested gang affiliates Ron Thompson, 51, of Portland and Kendra Castle, 43, of Gresham on suspicion of hindering prosecutors in the case. Investigators said they might make additional arrests, too.
A Portland police detective with a specialty in outlaw motorcycle groups determined from Huggins’ tattoos that he had been a member of the Gypsy Jokers, Portland Police Detective Jim Lawrence said.
Meanwhile, Clark County sheriff’s Detectives Scott Kirgiss and Kevin Harper spoke with family and friends to learn that Huggins was last seen on June 30 in the area of Northeast Portland, where Huggins was kidnapped, Lawrence said.
“He died a horrible death,” Lawrence said, though he would not explain further. The Clark County medical examiner ruled that Huggins died of homicidal violence.
“I think his friends found out that he was doing things they didn’t like him doing,” Lawrence said. “His death was a result of his recent activity.”
Lawrence explained that outlaw motorcycle groups tend to be involved in the trafficking of weapons, drugs and stolen property and are willing to resort to violence to maintain order and keep their activity secret from law enforcement.
“We had to be very careful about how we collected evidence,” Lawrence said. “We started executing search warrants, tracking people. … It’s painstakingly slow.”
Lawrence said that a grand jury also has begun to hear evidence in the case, so the defendants may be arraigned again later on new indictments. He also said it is possible the suspects will be charged in Washington.
Investigators said that Huggins struggled with drug addiction, had a history of property crimes, was “known to be violent,” was a suspect in a 2012 Ridgefield shooting and was involved in other crimes around the time of his death. Even so, Lawrence said, investigators viewed him as any other victim.
“It isn’t about who the victim is, it’s about what somebody did to the victim,” Lawrence said. “The victim has a family, and they want answers. That’s who we’re working for, the victim and the victim’s family.”