Brian Joseph Page, 1975 {Salem, Oregon}

On a cold January night in 1975, four friends traveled from Portland to Salem for a house party. In the early morning hours, one of them would go missing after following his friend out of the house.  This is the story of the disappearance of Brian Joseph Page.

Brian Joseph Page
Brian Page Photo: Namus.gov

Brian was born in 1958 and grew up in Portland, Oregon. He went by the nickname Joe.  He lived in Southeast Portland in the Mount Tabor area, attending Franklin High School. 

Portland was, and still is, the largest city in Oregon, but its state capitol, Salem, is the second largest city and lies just 45 miles to the south of Portland.  It’s a quick drive on I-5 to get between the two, and on the night of January 12th, 1975, Brian, his sister, and his friends took his 1962 VW bug–in a bright turquoise–down to the party.

The party was in downtown Salem, near the intersection of SE State Street and 25th. This area is just a mile east of the state capitol and right next to the Oregon State Penitentiary.  While it is a densely populated area in Salem, the area is still largely residential, with primarily one level single family homes or small apartment complexes.

According Brian’s entry on the Charley Project, Brian listened to music at the party with his friend David. Reportedly, David took some LSD and wasn’t feeling well, so he went outside around 2am. Brian’s friends encouraged him to follow David and make sure he was okay. Brian was wearing jeans, a blue shirt with “Hilton” on it, and brown hiking boots.  This is the last time Brian was seen.

It’s unclear where they went after this. David has said he has no memory of that evening. What is known is that by 5am, David was alone, a mile southwest of the party, at a car lot on the west end of downtown Salem near the Willamette River.

David found himself at the Capitol Chevrolet-Cadillac, located at 605 Commercial St NE. He allegedly broke in and stole the keys to a 1973 car and drove it off the lot. A short police chase ensued, and he was arrested in downtown Salem.  According to The Charley Project, David was reported to have said that he thought he was in hell. David was later sentenced to a one year suspended sentence and three years of probation for charges related to the car incident.

This map shows the distance between the approximate location of the party and the location where David was found.

Brian was never seen again. His car was never found. David was never reported to have any additional memories of that night surface. 

So where did they go after the party? A news article reported an anonymous tip came in a week after his disappearance that claimed police would “find something not alive anymore” if they searched the area near the Wheatland Ferry. The water surrounding the ferry was searched but came up empty.  The Wheatland Ferry is about 17 miles to the northwest of the party that night, and connects north Salem to farmland. It is not a direct route to Portland. The suggestion of Brian disappearing into a body of water is a valid one–since both him and his car vanished, a car accident of some kind where the car drops out of view would be one explanation. There are many bodies of water in the Salem area, the largest being the Willamette River. It runs north to south alongside the west end of the downtown area, and is crossed over by two one way bridges.  Both bridges stem from streets just a block or two north of State Street, the street the party was on.  Further, the bridges are only 8 blocks north along the river of the car lot David was at that evening.  That said, it seems unlikely that David would have gone into the water had there been a car accident, as he was only unaccounted for for three hours, and there is no mention of him being wet when he was found. When did the two get separated? Is it possible that Brian never caught up to David after each walked out the front door of the party?

The car’s license plate is 7P3626. Brian was 5’6” and 140 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with brown hair and brown eyes. Today, he’d be 62.  If you have any information about the disappearance of Brian Joseph Page, contact the Portland Police Department, (503)823-0000.

Brian Joseph Page Missing in Oregon
An age-progressed photo of Brian Page to age 60. Source: The Charley Project

Sources

(1975) “David Ross Annin” The Statesman Journal, 19 Feb. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46340384/or-1975-david-ross-annin-brian-joseph/ Accessed 15 June 2020.

(1975) “Body Search Is Fruitless” The Statesman Journal, 20 Jan. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/198858348/ Accessed 6 July 2020.

Good, Meaghan. “Brian Joseph Page.” The Charley Projecthttp://charleyproject.org/case/brian-joseph-page. Accessed 6 July 2020.

Deborah Lee Atrops, 1988 {Sherwood, Oregon}

Today, we’ll discuss the case of a new wife and mom who went missing on her way to pick up her infant daughter after work in Sherwood, Oregon. She was later found strangled in the trunk of her car in Beaverton, Oregon. This is the unsolved case of Deborah Lee Atrops.

Deborah Lee Atrops. Photo: Washington County Sheriff

Sherwood, Oregon lies thirty minutes south west of Portland, at the beginning of the farmland that encompasses much of the mid Willamette Valley.  Today, Sherwood is often rated among the best towns to live in in America, with around 20,000 people currently living there and a high median income.  Highway 99 runs through the town, allowing the small town easy access to larger towns down the highway, like Tigard along I-5, just fifteen minutes away.  In 1988, Sherwood was even smaller at around 3,000 people.  On the north side of 99 is a huge stretch of rural farmland, with back roads winding over the hills into south Beaverton.  Just south of 99 is the core town area, with quaint shops along a four block square grid and surrounded by historic homes.

Downtown Sherwood today. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Deborah Atrops was born in June of 1958, and as a child, she moved around a lot due to her father’s job in the military.  The family lived in Guam and the Philippines before living for a few years in Salem, Oregon where she attended South Salem High School.  She moved with her family to Spokane, Washington, for her senior year of high school, graduating there before moving again with her family back to Salem.  On June 6, 1987, she married Robert Atrops, her high school sweetheart.  They moved to Sherwood, where Deborah began working as a bookkeeper at Wellon Industries, a Sherwood manufacturing plant.  In the spring of 1988, Deborah gave birth to their daughter.

On paper, this looked like a couple at the beginning of building a life together.  In June of 1988, Deborah had just celebrated her 30th birthday and her first wedding anniversary.  She had a newborn daughter.  However, in July, the couple separated.  Deborah moved to the Cambridge East Apartments off Sunnyview Road NE in Salem.  She was moving ahead with her life, taking accounting classes at Chemeketa Community College, and looking to get a degree in accounting. 

Deborah Lee Atrops murder in Sherwood Oregon
Deborah Lee Atrops. Photo: Washington County Sheriff

On Tuesday, November 29, Deborah worked her shift at Wellons in Sherwood, and got off work at 5pm.  She drove directly to her hair appointment at Razz Ma Tazz hair salon in Tigard and arrived on time at 5:15.  The salon, located in a strip mall next to the Fred Meyer grocery store, reported that she left just after 7pm.  She wore a red dress and a royal blue coat.  This would be the last time she was seen alive.

That evening, Deborah was due to pick up her 9 month old baby at Robert’s house in Sherwood immediately after this appointment.  His home at the time was located on the north side of Highway 99 in Sherwood, off Conzelman Road. That’s still a rural road today, surrounded on either side by a mix of tall trees and farmland, but still not far off the main highway.  If she had made it there, it would have taken her only fifteen or twenty minutes.  But instead, she never made it.  At 9pm that night, Robert notified police that she had not arrived.  Police searched her apartment but there was nothing there to indicate she was planning to leave.

The following morning, construction workers working to build some new apartments at the corner of Murray Blvd and Scholls Ferry Road in south Beaverton noticed a black Honda Accord at the end of a dead end street. The area has since been developed and the road expanded, but at the time, Murray Blvd ended just south of Scholls Ferry Road. However, nothing seemed outwardly unusual about the car, so they did not report it.

On Thursday Dec 1, 1988 at 8:45am, patrol officers on the lookout for her car found the Honda Accord and identified it as hers.  When they opened the trunk, they found her body. Her body was clothed.  An autopsy later showed she’d been strangled, and had been dead before she was put into the trunk of her car.  The car’s license plates were removed, and the keys were in the ignition.

Early newspaper articles mention that police were hoping to find parents who had been seen videotaping their son skateboarding in the parking lot of the hairdresser’s shopping center. The police did track down the video, but according to an article in the Salem Statesman Journal on December 8, 1988, the quality was poor and did not show Deborah in the background. Despite pleas to the public for assistance, no one reported seeing anything suspicious and there were no reported leads.

Then, in January of 1989, just six weeks after her disappearance, a different case would overshadow hers in the newspapers. Michael Franke, the director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, was killed outside of his office the evening of January 17, 1989.  This became a high profile case, and as coverage grew about Franke’s murder, it seemed to some that coverage of Deborah’s disappearance simply couldn’t compete.

Since then, there have been few breaks that have been made public, and news coverage of her case has all but stopped.  Deborah’s mother Gloria continued to be outspoken about her daughter’s case not getting enough attention, particularly in comparison to Michael Franke’s case.  Deborah’s case remains on the cold case list at the Washington County Sheriff’s office, and as of today is unsolved.  

If you have any information regarding Deborah Lee Atrops, please contact the Washington County Sheriff’s office at (503) 846-2500.

Sources

Novak, Theresa. (1988) “Salem woman found dead in Beaverton”, Statesman Journal, 02 Dec. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/200276381/ (Accessed 12 June 2020).

(1988) “Deborah Lee Atrops”, Statesman Journal, 03 Dec. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/200281882 (Accessed 12 June 2020).

(1988) “Video may give clue to strangulation”, Statesman Journal, 08 Dec. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/200353976/ (Accessed 12 June 2020).

Novak, Theresa. (1989) “Mother of slain woman grows tired of silence”, Statesman Journal, 16 April. Available at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/200264239/ (Accessed 12 June 2020).

“Cold Case Investigations: Deborah Atrops” Washington County Sheriff. https://www.co.washington.or.us/Sheriff/FightingCrime/CriminalInvestigations/cold-case-investigations.cfm Accessed 12 June 2020.