PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Update: Victim identified, person of interest interviewed; undersheriff comment)
Authorities on Friday identified a 51-year-old resident of the rural Juniper Acres subdivision as the man found dead on Thanksgiving in an apparent homicide at his home, and said they had interviewed a person of interest in the case.
Crook County Undersheriff James Savage said deputies responded around 11:30 a.m. Thursday to a requested welfare check in the 700 block of Southeast Myrtlewood Lane in Juniper Acres, a 5,000-acre “off-the-grid” subdivision about 25 miles south of Prineville and 25 miles east of Bend.
In Friday's update, Savage identified Dennis Allen Stewart as "the victim of a homicide."
The Crook County sheriff's and district attorney's offices, Central Oregon Major Crime Team and Oregon State Police Crime Lab were on scene investigating the case through the night, Savage said.
"A person of interest has been contacted and interviewed," Savage said in an updated news release.
"At this time, we do not believe there is any threat to the public," the undersheriff said, adding that "the investigation is ongoing and no arrest has been made.”
Savage said he knows waiting for an arrest in a homicide case can be frustrating for the public, but it's necessary.
“We need to get enough evidence to prosecute the case, and sometimes that takes more in-depth investigation," he said. "We don’t want to be in a hurry and make a mistake, and later on have the case be compromised because of it.”
As a result, no more information is being released at this time, Savage said.
Stewart was in the news in June of last year when a live-in girlfriend, Tina Marie Hill, was arrested, accused of pulling a gun at the Myrtlewood Lane address and firing several shots at Stewart. None hit him, but one struck and injured one of the couple's dogs, Crook County sheriff's deputies said at the time.