Family turns up heat on cold case

The family of a murder victim has hired a private investigator to scout out new leads in a trail that has grown cold during the past two years.

They are also asking for community help to increase the amount of the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the unknown killer.

Daron Coates of Internal Affairs Private Investigations, Inc., of Portland, began working this summer on the case of Eric Tamiyasu, who was slain during the early summer of 2001 at his Binns Hill Road home. Law enforcement officials believe the 41-year-old orchardist was sleeping in his bedroom when an unknown assailant shot him in the head with a .22 caliber handgun. Since the discovery of the body on June 30 of that year, Hood River County Detective Gerry Tiffany has actively worked the case but has not been able to turn up enough substantial evidence to make an arrest. He said the knowledge that a murderer is on the loose has been frustrating for both law enforcement and the family.

“I know that the family wants closure and we are hopeful that this new activity will help resolve the case,” said Tiffany, who can be reached at 387-3846.

Coates asks that people who are reluctant to talk to police but have any piece of information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, call him anonymously or confidentially at (503) 256-4933.

“We’re accomplishing a lot but, of course, we’re still eager to receive any new information that we can get on this case,” he said.

Ramona Tamiyasu, the sister of Eric, established a $10,000 reward shortly after his badly decomposed body was found four to five days after the shooting. Coates, who has also taken on the role as spokesperson for the family, said community members are invited to make donations that will add to that pool and possibly attract a person who might be reluctant at this time to speak out.

Tiffany said the Sheriff’s Office has pledged to run down any new leads developed by Coates.

Meanwhile, Hood River City Detective Stan Baker is trying to develop a suspect in the February shooting death of Faustino Garcia Garcia.

“The investigation is ongoing and it continues to be difficult. We welcome any new information,” said Baker, who can be reached at 387-5251.

The body of 52-year-old Garcia was found on Feb. 12 by a patrol deputy in a vacant lot next to Hood River Middle School. His estranged wife and children lived less than two blocks away on West Eugene Street. They said Garcia had been staying overnight at the house and had last been seen chasing a burglar away from the premises in the predawn hours. Although the site was thoroughly combed by law enforcement officials the area was well-traveled and has yielded few clues.

Tiffany is also working with state forensic scientists to learn the facts behind two other mysterious deaths in the county. In early June, a human skull was found near the Dog River trailhead on Mt. Hood. That case is similar to the discovery of weathered bones on a rocky ridge above Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort during the summer of 2001.

Tiffany said the skeletal remains found recently, which includes three badly chewed bones, appear to belong to a female who was most likely the victim of a homicide.

Preliminary reports show they have been in that location for less than one year. Tiffany is hoping to match the identity from the 100 women reported missing in Oregon during the past two years. If that does not work, he plans to broaden his search to other states. Forensic tests are currently underway on skeletal remains that were found on a steep slope above the resort in the summer of 2001. The partial frame of an adult male was wrapped in the remnant of a green leather jacket with a tattered fleece lining. Tiffany said they were probably in that location for more than five years.

He is now awaiting the results of DNA tests that could match the bones to a lost hiker from the East Coast. He said the family of that individual said they were last contacted in 1999 just before the man set off for a trek into the Mt. Hood wilderness.

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