BAKER CITY, Ore. – An Ontario, Ore., man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for a plot the prosecution said involved turning his garage into a death chamber for the teenager who fathered his grandson.
The sentence Thursday comes after Lester Earl Reger, 62, was convicted of attempted aggravated murder and other charges.
He was accused of plotting with his wife and two other people to kill Ramon Fry, then 19, of Garden Valley, Idaho. Shot in the head and back, the community college student escaped and survived.
Fry said he had been married to the Regers’ daughter and was returning the child after a visitation in February under terms of their divorce settlement.
The prosecution said the garage was lined with plastic sheets to hide evidence, and a vehicle was readied to remove the body.
“In 26 years of violence, very few things have scared me as much as walking into that garage that night,” said Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris. “It was a death chamber.”
Reger faked an arm injury, concealed a gun in the sling, and asked Fry to pick up three pieces of wood from beneath a work bench, Fry told investigators.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” Fry testified at the trial held in Baker County. “And I heard this pop. It was the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in my life.”
He said Reger took a swing, the sling came off, revealing the weapon, and he ran. Investigators said Reger got off another shot.
Fry said doctors found the first bullet wedged under his skin at the base of his skull.
Norris said an attempt to improvise a hollow-point bullet left it with too little mass to penetrate Fry’s skull.
Fry said the second bullet remains lodged near his kidney because removing it would threaten his life.
Wounded, Fry ran down a hill and flagged down a couple in a car, who stopped even though his hands and face were bloody, his legs were spattered with mud and one of his shoes was missing.
Reger testified that he had wrested the gun from Fry, whom he suspected of abusing the boy, now 2. Norris said the allegation had been disproved by multiple agencies.
The other conspirators are serving 90-month sentences, including Reger’s wife, Erlene, who authorities say lured Fry into the garage, and John Fritz and Todd Mulvaine. Fritz told investigators he heard Reger and Mulvaine making the plan, including a $1,200 payment to Mulvaine for getting the gun and burying Fry’s body.
Reger served time after he was convicted in a 1985 plea bargain for the beating death of his then-wife, Simone Reger, whose body was found in the Snake River.