Multiple murderer headed for local release
In addition to the prison term, shortened through award of good time, the 49-year-old Cox was ordered to remain under post-prison supervision for life. And Sheriff Jack Crabtree said he will help Yamhill County Community Corrections meet that commitment.
At the time of his arrest, Cox was on probation on a Yamhill County conviction for first-degree forgery. And while he has no local family ties, he was residing at a Newberg motel.
By statute, therefore, Cox is required to return to Yamhill County upon release to serve out his post-prison supervision. He appealed for release in Southern Oregon’s Douglas County instead, but was refused.
Cox is currently completing his sentence at the minimum-security Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in the Central Oregon community of Madras. He is scheduled for transport to Yamhill County on Feb. 22.
Normally, Yamhill County gets 90-day notice from the State Parole Board of pending releases. However, Cox’s appeal served to significantly delay that in his case.
Cox has no established residence or employment, so will reside in the county jail work-release center intially, and Community Corrections Director Ted Smietana said he will remain subject to strict conditions set by the Parole Board during his stay.
“The direction to my staff in this case will be to contain, monitor and control Mr. Cox,” Smietana said. “If he chooses to violate the conditions set by the state, my department, in cooperation with the sheriff’s office, will step in and refer him back to the Department of Corrections for consideration of revocation.”
Crabtree confirmed that, saying, “Because of the situation and the possible risk to the community, I have offered resources to community corrections.”
Capt. Tim Svenson said he will be free to move about the community during the day, but will have to report back to the center each evening.
“He’ll sleep there,” Svenson said. “During the day, he can be off doing whatever it is he has to do. He’ll be ordered to report back at a certain time of the evening.”
Svenson said usual state practice is to bar such clients from leaving the county responsible for their post-prison supervision, and he’s assuming that will be the case with Cox.
“He’s been in prison for 20 years,” Svenson said. “We have no information on file that we have been provided, that indicates there should be significant concern for him being housed in our facility.
“The hard part is wrapping your head around what he is going to be doing while he is here. With someone like this, who was convicted of such crimes, even though he has paid his debt, there is a concern about him reoffending.”
Cox was convicted of stabbing Rheena Ann Brunson and strangling Victoria Rhone.
Brunson’s body was found in a Portland grocery store parking lot. Rhone was found in a Portland railway yard.
A long-haul trucker by profession, he was suspected in more than 20 other murders as well. The roster includes the slayings in neighboring Washington of transient Hazel Gelnett in 1988 and Seattle resident Tia Hicks in 1990.
He was also suspected in the rape and attempted murder of a Seattle prostitute in 1991, the year of his arrest in the Brunson and Rhone slayings.
Brunson’s mother told Portland’s KPTV that she had not been informed of Cox’s pending release. She declined further comment.