Unsolved So. Oregon: From the Ashes

MEDFORD, Ore. –“In this case we have some strong persons of interest. But we just don’t have enough to make a strong criminal case,” said Cpt. Tim Snaith, Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Two shocking crimes miles apart yet connected.

“I spent many agonizing months investigating this case,” said Cpt. Snaith.

Captain Snaith of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office won’t disclose the link, but confirms it’s there.

“We investigated both cases very thoroughly and looked for all the similarities and connections. People connections, things connections,” he said.

On September 4th of 2008, Troy Dean Carney was camping on the Bear Creek Greenway near Central Point and Table Rock Road.

The 44-year-old, last seen walking away from Central Point’s ‘Pilot Truck Stop.’

Cpt. Snaith says his body was discovered three days later; there was no sign of a struggle.

“He was asleep in his sleeping bag. We didn’t find anybody who says they heard a gunshot around that time frame,” said Cpt. Snaith.

Investigators searched for clues looking at nearby transient camps abandoned at the sound of police sirens.

At one camp, Cpt. Snaith says a strange item caught their eye, a yellow and black wolverine mask.

You can find it on the cover of the ‘Return of Wolverine’ comic book showing the mutant emerging from flames.

“It was found in the campsite and it was so distinctive, we thought we might be able to locate witnesses or people who were camped there,” said Cpt. Snaith.

Police tracked down the mask’s owner with the help of DNA evidence and questioned him as a person of interest.

As for why the mask was at the campsite in the first place, Cpt. Snaith says, police never asked.

“We did not make any connection,” he said.

The comic book symbol, not the only thing perplexing to investigators about the events of that September day.

“As with a lot of things and any crimes you go to, things are not as they appear,” said Mike Moran, Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Little did police know, two fires on Dead Indian Memorial Road would spark a nearly 12 year investigation.

The first fire, around 4 am at an empty cabin near Hyatt Lake.

The second, just 3 hours later, a few miles down the road at the home of 46-year-old David Lewis.

“Both blazes were separately and intentionally set which is pretty unusual,” said Moran.

Moran says why a fire erupted at a vacant cabin is something investigators still don’t understand.

The second fire, however, had a more sinister motive.

“The actual cause of death was not fire, but a bullet wound,” he said.

Two men found on the same day both shot to death.

As far as police could determine, Carney and Lewis didn’t know each other.

Just over a week later, a third and final fire sparked in the vicinity where Carney was murdered.

“Why would someone 9 days later start a fire to destroy evidence when they could potentially do it much sooner,” said Cpt. Snaith.

Did the same person start a fire at Lewis’s home and the cabin down the road? Did that person also kill Lewis and Carney using a fire to cover up evidence?

“Only the suspect or eyewitness will have those pieces of information,” said Moran.

Trying to connect the dots today, Moran says, is a fruitless effort. But they’ll never give up hope that one day, someone will come forward.

“It’s very troubling that someone would go to these lengths to commit this crime,” said Moran.

Today, there are no new leads and no new suspects in the murders of Troy Dean Carney or David Lewis.

No one has ever been charged with the crimes.

If you have any information, call the Jackson County tip line at 541-774-8333.

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