ROBERT AND FRIEDA WHEATLEY: Burglarized and Murdered in Portland, OR - 27 Aug 1988

ROBERT & FRIEDA WHEATLEY
Cases # 88-88210 & # 88-88211

Robert and Frieda Wheatley


View KPTV's story on this Cold Case.

On August 29, 1988, police responded to a welfare check at 2612 N. Holman, which was called in by the granddaughter of the occupants of that residence.

Police entered the residence where they discovered the bodies of Robert Wheatley, 61, and Frieda Wheatley, 69, in the basement. The medical examiner determined the cause of death as strangulation. Detectives believe that the Wheatley’s died on August 27, 1988.

It is apparent from the crime scene that the motive was robbery. There was no sign of forced entry. The home was ransacked and a television set, ATM card, credit card and the Wheatley’s light green 1979 Buick Regal were stolen. The ATM and credit cards were used extensively in Northeast, North and Downtown Portland prior to the Wheatley’s bodies being discovered. The Buick was recovered a few days later in a Jantzen Beach Shopping Center parking lot.

Investigating Detectives believe that there are people in the community that have information about this crime.

Witnesses may contact Cold Case Homicide Unit investigators directly at (503) 823-0400. To remain anonymous, witnesses may provide information through Crime Stoppers of Oregon.

Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in any unsolved felony crime and tipsters can remain anonymous.

Information about this case or any unsolved felony crime may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,500.

Information learned from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube should be shared as these tips may lead to the identification of a suspect or suspects. Links can be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

Submit an anonymous tip:

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Call 503-823-HELP (4357).

 
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Jason Futch

Well-known member
Portland Cold Case: Robert & Frieda Wheatley

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 IN COLD CASE
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August 29th, 1988. Portland, Oregon. Police and family of Robert (61) and Frieda Wheatley (69), had just entered the elderly couples residence after days of no contact at the 2600 block of North Holman. Knocks at the door and phone calls went unanswered. Their car was not in the driveway. Neighbors had not seen the couple either. After waiting a few days, one of their children alerted authorities and requested a wellness check. As they entered the home, immediately they knew something was wrong.
There was no sign of forced entry but the house had been ransacked. Drawers were emptied and items were missing from the home. Still no sign of the couple. After what police thought was a thorough search of the house, the daughter then directed law enforcement to the basement. There a horrific scene would be discovered. The bodies of the missing couple would be found. It would later be determined that both individuals had been strangled to death. It is believed that the couple was murdered on August 27th, two days earlier.

Among the missing items was a collection of debit and credit cards, a television set, jewelry, and a 1979 Buick Regal. After tracking the missing cards, it was shown that they were used throughout the Portland area over the past few days. Once the crime was discovered, activity on the cards soon stopped. Also once reports of the murder began to surface, the Buick would turn up in a nearby shopping center.
A “For Sale By Owners” sign was hanging on the couples property. Detectives theorized the motive was robbery and by approaching the couple as prospective buyers would allow easy access to the home as well as putting the couples guard down. This would explain why there was no sign of forced entry. Once inside the home one or more suspects subdued and murdered the Wheatley couple, placing them in the basement and taking any valuables from the home.

No new leads have surfaced in years. Detectives are still trying to track down new leads and feel like someone in the community knows something but still has yet to come forward. Over the years detectives have revisited the case multiple times. In an effort to solve the case they have resubmitted items found in the home to forensic labs, hoping that new technology would be able to lift a print or identify a profile.
A person of interest was identified by detectives but they were unable to obtain enough evidence to move forward in the investigation. A reward is still being offered for any information that would result in the arrest of those responsible for this heinous crime. If you have any potential information on the deaths of Robert and Frieda Wheatley, please share the information with Oregon investigators.

 

Jason Futch

Well-known member
Robert & Frieda Wheatley

Robert and Frieda were 61 and 69 years old respectively when they were murdered in August, 1988. The following is an excerpt from Fox 12:

"Why would a stranger just randomly come in and kill older people who hadn't done them any harm?" asked Judi Randall, Frieda Wheatley's daughter. "It was a hot August night. I remember, because we sat in the car and waited, hoping they would show up," Randall recalled. "I pulled back the curtains, all the dressers had been dumped. It was a mess. That was a sign right there that something was wrong," Randall said. "(The) officer didn't know there was a basement. I ended up showing them the basement," Frieda Wheatley's granddaughter, Jennifer Brown, remembered. "And they were down there."

Cold case investigators said 61-year-old Robert Wheatley and his 69-year-old wife, Frieda, had been murdered in their own home. The crime was pre-meditated, detectives said, and the killers posed as prospective buyers.

The unsolved murders have haunted not only the Wheatley family, but the investigators assigned to the case. In 2006, police and family held a press conference to announce a new reward of $10,000 for information leading to an arrest.

"I know that maybe this money, this amount of reward, may tempt someone and I hope it does," Frieda Wheatley's son, Randy Copenhaver, said in 2006.

But six years have passed with no arrests.

"Something would happen and I would run to the phone and want to tell my mother. You never get over that," Randall said.

 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
In just now reading this and knowing nothing about it, something that jumps out at me is if LE did not even know there was a basement and family had to show them, how did the perps know there was a basement? I am not saying they couldn't have been prospective buyers and the couple showed them the basement in showing the entire home but one would think they couldn't know that was where they would kill them unless they knew ahead of time there was one?

Also, I guess in the year this happened security cams were probably not so big in stores, etc. Yet someone used their cards and drove their vehicle and no one has a recollection of someone purchasing something on a card at a certain hour, etc. or seeing someone in that vehicle? I mean there were still receipts and probably records of sales. Not a single clerk? Of course LE may know more than is shared.

The minute I read strangulation, which seems a bit odd and personal honestly, of both, it says there was more than one perp right? I am not thinking family or accusing anyone but it just seems like there may be some familiarity of the couple, and the home and of the house having a basement?

To me, strangulation in a basement of an older couple is really unusual. Not a knife, not a gun, etc. I can't think of a case offhand that strangulation was the cause of a couple in a case similar to this at all.

Prospective buyers would perhaps not have to break and enter but neither would anyone familiar or known to the couple.

However, again, it does sound like LE knows more than is said to think it was buyers...

I hope I can remember to catch your episode on this and follow this one.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
In just now reading this and knowing nothing about it, something that jumps out at me is if LE did not even know there was a basement and family had to show them, how did the perps know there was a basement? I am not saying they couldn't have been prospective buyers and the couple showed them the basement in showing the entire home but one would think they couldn't know that was where they would kill them unless they knew ahead of time there was one?

Also, I guess in the year this happened security cams were probably not so big in stores, etc. Yet someone used their cards and drove their vehicle and no one has a recollection of someone purchasing something on a card at a certain hour, etc. or seeing someone in that vehicle? I mean there were still receipts and probably records of sales. Not a single clerk? Of course LE may know more than is shared.

The minute I read strangulation, which seems a bit odd and personal honestly, of both, it says there was more than one perp right? I am not thinking family or accusing anyone but it just seems like there may be some familiarity of the couple, and the home and of the house having a basement?

To me, strangulation in a basement of an older couple is really unusual. Not a knife, not a gun, etc. I can't think of a case offhand that strangulation was the cause of a couple in a case similar to this at all.

Prospective buyers would perhaps not have to break and enter but neither would anyone familiar or known to the couple.

However, again, it does sound like LE knows more than is said to think it was buyers...

I hope I can remember to catch your episode on this and follow this one.
Would strangulation occur more often if they didn't anticipate killing them ahead of time?
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
Would strangulation occur more often if they didn't anticipate killing them ahead of time?
Yah I don't know, it just strikes me a bit unusual. Husband to wife or man raping a woman or even worse, a child, you hear of strangling... Here, it just seems a bit different or odd to take out an older couple that way. My first thought was there are at least two perps or one or the other of the couple would have run or tried to help or call for help, etc. For both to be strangled? And then I would think saw the entire house and it says they think it was all premeditated...? If premeditated one would almost think they would take a weapon of some sort. It just strikes me a bit unusual... I can see maybe no gun perhaps concerned about noise...? It just strikes me as they say about strangulation, so close up and personal... If it was from the front, they see the eyes and the life and breath leave them, that sounds to me like personal hatred almost...

Who knows though? Could just be a screwed up spur of the moment couple of methed up idiots.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
In just now reading this and knowing nothing about it, something that jumps out at me is if LE did not even know there was a basement and family had to show them, how did the perps know there was a basement? I am not saying they couldn't have been prospective buyers and the couple showed them the basement in showing the entire home but one would think they couldn't know that was where they would kill them unless they knew ahead of time there was one?

Also, I guess in the year this happened security cams were probably not so big in stores, etc. Yet someone used their cards and drove their vehicle and no one has a recollection of someone purchasing something on a card at a certain hour, etc. or seeing someone in that vehicle? I mean there were still receipts and probably records of sales. Not a single clerk? Of course LE may know more than is shared.

The minute I read strangulation, which seems a bit odd and personal honestly, of both, it says there was more than one perp right? I am not thinking family or accusing anyone but it just seems like there may be some familiarity of the couple, and the home and of the house having a basement?

To me, strangulation in a basement of an older couple is really unusual. Not a knife, not a gun, etc. I can't think of a case offhand that strangulation was the cause of a couple in a case similar to this at all.

Prospective buyers would perhaps not have to break and enter but neither would anyone familiar or known to the couple.

However, again, it does sound like LE knows more than is said to think it was buyers...

I hope I can remember to catch your episode on this and follow this one.
Yeah. How could you not know there is a basement. I would think 2 perps because they apparently were not restrained and both strangled. Not shot or stabbed. Pure evil.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
I have a great paternal aunt who was murdered when I was around 11 by 3 illegal individuals in New Mexico. They stabbed her with an ice pick close to a hundred times. They were angry because they could only get a silver dollar and a t.v. I don't understand how anyone can hurt older people. Much less murder.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
You would find their generation was more trusting being they were born in the 1920's respectively. My dad's parents generation.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
What gets me is stealing a jar of pennies. That is something a teenager would do. But I don't think for one second it was teenagers.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
I don't believe it was a set up. If Robert was going to commit suicide I doubt he would choose that method. Most people choose the quickest least painful way possible. A so called hit man isn't going to hang around IMO. cut the phone lines. Lock the basement door.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
This student. Very suspicious. An African American person's evidence was found. Was the student African American?. That went back to their country?. Well appear black.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
Another theory. The stealing of cards, Pennies, Car etc. Could it have been a drug addict?. Appearing to be interested in the house?.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
I agree "For sale by owner" is dangerous. You don't see too much of it today. I agree Robert was trying to avoid paying someone else to sell the house. 100% profit.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
I don't think you're victim blaming at all. But the company you keep can lead to your downfall.
 

Mel70

Well-known member
This like many other old cases where it was older individuals, I do wonder how LE tries wgen the victims would now be deceased of natural causes. It shouldn't matter. The perpetrator still needs to be caught and pay for their crime.
 

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