This is a quick follow-up to the previous story about last night’s arrest of a homeless man who is accused of killing two other men yesterday at a homeless camp north of Bend.
I just came back from the arraignment hearing where the suspect Jason Michael Centrone appeared via video camera to hear the charges against him. The appearance didn’t shed a lot of light on the crime, one of several that have occurred in the last two years in and around Bend’s homeless camps, Judge Edward Perkins read the names of the victims. According to the complaint, Centrone is accused of stabbing to death Greg Spikerman and David Wade.
In addition to aggravated murder charges, Centrone faces two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. The suspect, who appeared on camera in a short-sleeved navy jail shirt wearing shoulder length brown hair, said little during his initial appearances other than to answer Perkins prompts.
The judge ordered Centrone, whom the sheriff’s office had initially referred to as a transient, held without bail. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 24. In the meantime the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office is executing search warrants on Centrone, whom DA Mike Dugan said was set to be transported to the St. Charles for blood and tissue sampling, as well as the homeless camp where the crime is alleged to have taken place.
Interviewed earlier in the day, Dugan said he wasn’t at liberty to say if the suspect and the victims knew each other before the incident or any of the other circumstances around the alleged crime.
Asked about the violence around the camps, Dugan said he hadn’t noticed an up-tick in criminal activity in recent months, though he could point to a shooting and a sexual assault that were prosecuted through his office.
“What sticks out I suppose is the aggravated cases. Here we have a murder. We’ve had assaults; we had a sexual offense. Those things grab headlines. We still have not had anything different than the occasional shoplifting and trespassing. Those are small crimes that you don’t write about,” Dugan said.
Asked whether law enforcement authorities might take a more aggressive approach to the camps, Dugan said he wasn’t sure who would take the lead on that given that the camps are spread out between public and private land. In this case his office was still trying to determine the landowner where the crime is alleged to have taken place. In addition, he isn’t sure whether a crackdown is the answer to the transient camps.
“I don’t know that that’s necessarily our job,” Dugan said. “My job is to prosecute people who violate the law.
“The Forest Service gets all upset when people squat on their property but that’s a federal offense. But do we want to spend a lot of money to prosecute people who trespass in the second degree?” Dugan asked.
“The other thing is there are agencies in town actively seeking to help those homeless,” Dugan said, ticking off the names of a number of non-profits like Shepherd’s House and Bethlehem Inn.
“We don’t have to go out and do the old railroad thing, hitting the hobos with the batons. It just doesn’t seem to be what we should be doing,” he said.