November 30, 2011 in City

Off-duty Oregon prison guard slain lending aid

Victim had stopped for stranded man
Jeff Barnard Associated Press
 

Herron
(Full-size photo)

An off-duty prison guard driving to work in Eastern Oregon was killed after stopping to help a stranded motorist.

Authorities said Tuesday they arrested a suspect when he rolled the victim’s pickup truck in a farm field south of Hermiston, Ore., following an 18-minute pursuit by police.

Joshua Charles Weeks, 22, of Portland, was held in the Umatilla County Jail on one count of murder, and would be arraigned today, Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus said.

Buddy Ray Herron, 42, a guard at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, was driving to work late Monday night when he pulled over to help a stranded motorist, and was attacked, Oregon Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jennifer Black said.

Police told the East Oregonian newspaper that Herron phoned 911 to report he had been stabbed and his pickup truck stolen. He died after being taken to a Pendleton hospital.

After the report went out, Stanfield Police Officer Nat Hughes spotted the truck headed west on Interstate 84 about 30 miles west of Pendleton, said Stanfield Police Chief Bryon Zumwalt.

Hughes could not get the pickup truck to stop, Zumwalt said. Weeks left the freeway, and headed south, rolling the truck in a farm field. By then several law enforcement agencies were on hand, and state police took Weeks to jail. Throughout the chase, speeds never went over 65 mph.

Primus said no firearms were involved, but he declined to discuss other details of the case, saying it remained under investigation.

Herron, of the Umatilla County community of Helix, was married with four children, and had worked at the medium-security Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution for four years, Black said.

“He will be missed at the OCI,” she said. “It’s a small community. I know they are all upset and thinking of his wife and kids.”

Weeks’ Facebook page shows him holding a rifle with other armed men. He describes himself as someone who has battled methamphetamine addiction, spent time in jail, and fathered a 2-year-old girl, declaring he loved her even though he could not be with her. He wrote that he worked as a stacker at a Portland lumber mill.

Weeks had been convicted of forgery in Umatilla County, Primus said.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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