Bend police still diving into decades-old cold cases

Body's found nearly two decades apart in Drake Park

Bend cold cases still thawing

BEND, Ore. - There are more than a dozen "cold cases" in Central Oregon. In Bend, there are around five.

Police have two cases they are actively working on. Both of them happened in Drake Park in the early 1960s and late 1970s.

Detectives found both of the victims' bodies in the Deschutes River.

While the trail to the killers may have gone cold, police say they have new technology that could help them crack one or both cases.

It was February 1962 when two children discovered a 17-year-old, dead in Drake Park.

Judy Lee Reeder was a popular Bend High student and homecoming princess.

Police believe someone beat Reeder, then dumped her body in the water, leaving her to drown.

"Obviously, a lot of years have gone by since that happened," said Bend Police Lt. Chris Carney. "And obviously, it has been unsolved all these years."

Reeder's case is one of several that have Central Oregon police still searching for answers.

And 17 years later, another death would haunt Drake Park.

Mary Jo Templeton, 47, was a waitress most of her life. Templeton was also known to frequent bars.

Her body was also found in Drake Park, in 1979 -- but this time, the victim was in pieces.

"She was found dismembered in Drake Park, in different parts of Drake Park," Carney said. "It took about a month to two-month period of time before that was located."

Templeton's head, hands, legs, thighs and arms were found by a fisherman, a utility worker and police divers over those two months.  

"Really a horrific case -- all homicide cases are, but this was something especially back in 1979 was never thought of ever around our area," Carney said.

Both cases leave police stumped, but not giving up hope.

"Of course, we are not letting it go," Carney said. "We are going to try to do everything we can, for the family and for the community.

"If we can solve these cases and put them to rest, it doesn't change the fact that this family member lost a loved one, but at least we can hopefully bring some closure to others who are still left."

The more time passes, the bigger the challenge for detectives trying to solve these cases.

"It's that people move," Carney said. "People pass away -- that's what really hurts us. We lose the ability to contact people that may have knowledge."

But time has also brought new tools, such as DNA matching.

"Technology has changed," Carney said. "We have DNA, which we didn't have back then, and so we have a lot of abilities that we try to bring this new age of technology into, try to help and solve some of these old cases."

Police cannot say if either cold case is closer to being solved.

"We can't say it's going to happen this year, next year, and that really, to me, doesn't matter," Carney said. "If it's 10 years from now, if we bring closure to the family and community, that's our job."

While police keep working to bring closure to these cases, they can still use any help you might be able to provide.

If you do know anything about either case, you are asked to call Bend police.

By clicking Submit users are agreeing to follow the Terms of Service
comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular Stories