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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Transient A Suspect In Boxcar Killings

A 37-year-old transient was being questioned by police in California on Tuesday in the slayings of men found in boxcars in that state and Oregon, Montana, Kansas, Arizona, Utah and Texas.

Robert Joseph Silveria was in custody in the Placer County Jail in Auburn, Calif., the Salem Police Department said in a news release Tuesday evening.

He was a suspect in the killing of William Pettit Jr., whose body was found in a boxcar in Millersburg last Dec. 3.

Authorities believe he was killed while the boxcar was at the Salem Southern Pacific rail yard. He died of a blow to the head.

Three days after Pettit’s body was found, Michael Clites, 24, was found dead in a boxcar in Portland. Portland police detective Kerry Taylor said Clites died Dec. 5 in Eugene, also of a blow to the head.

Salem police Detective Mike Quakenbush said in January that the two slayings possibly were linked to as many as seven others across the country.

Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. Art Thomas said Silveria was being held without bail in administrative segregation for violating parole on a theft conviction out of Plumas County, Calif.

No further charges had been filed, he said.

Officers from Oregon and Montana joined in questioning Silveria, who was arrested in Roseville, Calif., on Saturday, Thomas said.

He said no further information was being released pending a news conference this morning.