SALEM, Ore. — A torture and kidnapping suspect who killed himself Tuesday after a standoff with Oregon police is now suspected of fatally beating two men after evading capture, authorities said.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, died at an area hospital, hours after he shot himself while hiding in a crawlspace beneath a house in the southwestern Oregon city of Grants Pass.
During a news conference on Wednesday, law enforcement officials identified the two victims as Richard Lee Barron Jr. and Donald Owen Griffith. The men were killed sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, Oregon State Police Capt. Kyle Kennedy said.
Josephine County sheriff’s deputies saw evidence of a crime through the window of a home in rural Wolf Creek on Monday evening while going door-to-door searching for Foster, The Oregonian reported.
Police found the men, who lived together and apparently did not know Foster, according to The Associated Press. In addition to the fatal beatings, Foster allegedly stole some of the victims’ belongings, including their dog, the news organization reported.
Police had been searching for Foster, who was accused of torturing a woman in Grants Pass, for “a protracted period of time,” KOBI-TV reported. According to police, the victim was found tied up, beaten and unconscious in her home on Jan. 24, the television station reported.
State police said that on Tuesday morning, a taxicab picked up Foster and took him to the home in Grants Pass where the original attempted murder and kidnapping took place, KVAL-TV reported.
Police and SWAT officers were immediately sent to the home and a shelter-in-place was issued for the surrounding area, according to the television station. Foster was still alive after the shootout but died at an area hospital, according to the television station.
Before moving to Oregon, Foster in 2019 pleaded guilty to a felony count of battery and a misdemeanor count of battery constituting domestic violence after holding his then-girlfriend captive inside her apartment in Las Vegas for two weeks, according to the AP. He was originally charged with five felonies that included assault and battery that would have come with decades behind bars.
According to a Las Vegas police report obtained by the AP, the victim suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes, and other injuries from her two-week captivity. She was able to escape during a grocery and gas station trip with Foster.
Foster had been free from jail on a suspended sentence for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, according to court records obtained by the AP. He was also awaiting trial for a 2018 domestic violence case which was settled with a “time served” plea deal.
In the Nevada case, Foster reached a plea agreement with Clark County prosecutors in August 2021 and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. According to the AP, Foster accumulated 729 days of jail time, which ended up being factored into his sentence. That left him with less than 200 days to serve in state custody.
Police said that Foster was using online dating applications to “contact unsuspecting individuals who may be lured into assisting with the suspect’s escape or potentially as additional victims,” the Grants Pass Police Department said.
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