News and Press Releases
Three Indicted in Hightower Homicide PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 October 2016 11:40
The Columbia County Grand Jury has indicted three suspects in the murder of Apache Hightower.  Following an investigation that spanned three weeks and locations from a rural Columbia County roadway to the Cities of St. Helens, Portland and Santa Barbara, Calif., investigators were able to secure indictments in the case, charging each suspect with aggravated murder,  and numerous other crimes.


Jesse Allen Lane, 28, Medford, is charged with: four counts of Aggravated Murder; one count of Murder, one count of Felony Murder;  two Counts of Kidnapping First Degree;  one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm; one count of Strangulation; and two counts of Hindering Prosecution; 

Charles William Vernon, 29, St. Helens is charged with: three counts of Aggravated Murder; one count of Murder, one count of Felony Murder;  two Counts of Kidnapping First Degree;  one count of Felon in Possession of a firearm; and, one count of Hindering Prosecution. 

Stephanie Toney, 20, St. Helens is charged with: two counts of Aggravated Murder; one count of Murder, one count of Felony Murder;  two Counts of Kidnapping First Degree;  and, two counts of Hindering Prosecution
"This incident is so sad for the needless loss of life and the tremendous sorrow for Ms. Hightower's family," said Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, "but I am extremely proud of the way investigators doggedly stayed on top of this case to produce this relatively quick result."

Hundreds of hours of investigation on the part of the small, but determined Columbia County Major Crimes Team brought the case from an unidentified murder victim discarded down an embankment off of Pittsburg Rd to the identification of three suspects involved in the kidnapping, assault and murder of Ms. Hightower. Investigators had the assistance of the Oregon Medical Examiner's Office, the Oregon State Police Forensics Laboratory, the Portland Police Bureau, the United State's Marshal's fugitive task force, the FBI, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon State Parole Board, the Columbia County  Department of Community Justice,  the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office in bringing this case before the grand jury just three weeks after the discovery of Ms. Hightower's body.

"We had a lot of help that was crucial to the success of this investigation," the sheriff said, "and we had a small number of dedicated members of the Major Crimes Team working daily with the Columbia County District Attorney's Office to build this case."

The three individuals charged in the murder were arraigned in the courtroom located in the Columbia County Jail at 11:30 this morning.  The investigation is still continuing.


The family of Apache Hightower has expressed their desire for no contact from the news media, requesting all media requests for information to come through this office.

Sheriff's Office Identifies Person of Interest in the Murder of Portland Woman PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 September 2016 14:02


The Columbia County Sheriff's Office -- in conjunction with the Columbia County Major Crimes Team -- is seeking the whereabouts of a key individual in a homicide investigation.   Jesse Allen Lane, 28, is named as a person of interest in the murder of Apache Rose Hightower.

Hightower's body was discovered in a rural Columbia County location on  Tuesday September 20. A subsequent autopsy indicated Hightower had been the victim of homicidal violence.

Lane is a white male adult, 6'-1" tall, weighing approximately 145 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes and tattoos on his elbow, left arm, neck,  and right forearm.  He also has a tattoo of the letter "B" just below the corner of his right eye that has been added since the last photo we have of him had been taken.

The last known address for Lane is in Jackson County, Oregon, but he has been seen both in Portland and the St. Helens area in recent weeks.

Lane is a convicted felon who currently has an active warrant for his arrest issued by the State Parole Board.

Lane should be considered armed and dangerous.  If anyone knows of Lane's Whereabouts, they are encouraged to call law enforcement and not to take action themselves.

Suspicious Death Ruled a Homicide PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 18:16
The Suspicious Death investigation in Columbia County is now a homicide investigation. Investigators working on the case have identified Apache Rose Hightower, 24, Portland, as the victim of homicidal violence following the autopsy held this afternoon in Portland. 

Hightower's body was discovered yesterday afternoon a little before 4:30 p.m. by a passerby who did not have a cellular telephone with him, but notified other drivers who called 9-1-1. Deputies responding to the scene discovered her body down an embankment off of Pittsburg Rd. in the 30000 block. 

Investigators used fingerprint records to make a positive identification of Hightower's body. Investigators were also able to notify Hightower's next of kin this evening, leading to the release of this information. 

The investigation continues with the help of the Columbia County Major Crimes Team, the State Medical Examiner, and the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.  Investigators are encouraging anyone having information in regard to this case to call our recorded tip line at (503) 366-4698
Dog Licensing Program Changes for 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 08:58

Effective July 1, 2016, Dog Licensing is now under the Office of Sheriff for the purpose of creating enhanced communication between licensing and County Dog Control.  Licensing fees are the primary source of  funding that  provides for the work of our dog control office, including our ability to house stray and dangerous dogs. Dog Control's ability to work closely with licensing helps the Dog Control Office locate dog owners more quickly to return lost dogs, cuts down on mistakes in addressing dog control problems, and improves the service to dog owners in other ways by increasing the coordination between licensing, the animal shelter and the Dog Control Office.

Dog Licenses are now available from the Sheriff's Office Monday Through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  No appointment is necessary, but you must present proof of rabies inoculation in order to obtain a license.  You can download a pdf version of the license by going to  

Questions can be addressed to the Dog Control Clerk at (503) 366-4606.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 July 2016 09:17
Sheriff's Office arrests 79-year-old Clatskanie man on Sodomy/Sex Abuse Charges PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 June 2016 15:00
A 79-year-old Clatskanie Man is behind bars after an investigation stemming from a referral from a school resource officer from a high school outside of Columbia County.

Karl Cline is charged with two counts of Sodomy First Degree, seven counts of Sexual Abuse First Degree and one count of Attempted Sexual Abuse First Degree after indictments on those charges by the Columbia County grand jury. Two victims testified before the grand jury on Thursday, June 23.

The investigation began with our investigator receiving a referral from a school police resource officer from a school district in Clackamas County, advising that a female student had disclosed the abuse from 2010.  The investigation was submitted to the grand jury, which produced the indictment on the mentioned charges.

Cline was contacted at his residence Wednesday June 29 and taken into custody without incident.  Additional investigation at the residence could result in additional criminal charges.  

Details of the abuse were initially delayed in coming, with the first report to Oregon DHS in 2010 when the disclosing victim living in Clatskanie at the time (she was 12 years old at the time).  Cline had reportedly exposed himself to the victim, and a forensic interview was conducted in 2010.  Not enough information was developed to produce criminal charges at that time.

Last October, a school police resource officer had learned of a more detailed disclosure from one of the victims who is now six years older.  CCSO investigators opened a new case and investigators conducted a a child forensic interview in February. 
In March, Kline met with investigators, but was not arrested at that time.  Last week, both victims appeared before the Columbia County Grand Jury, which indicted Cline  on the mentioned counts.  Yesterday, the detective investigating the case went to Cline's residence in the 19000 block of Shepard Rd. in the Clatskanie area and arrested Cline without incident.

Cline is in jail with a bail amount of $108,000.

Anyone having any information about this case or this suspect is invited to call our citizen report line at (503) 366-4698.
                                                    Karl Cline 
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