Lukah Pobzeb Chang is put into the back of a patrol car Aig. 28 by police officers after being arrested hiding at the convention center in Pendleton, Ore. The deserter from the Marine Corps is accused of the killing of an Eastern Oregon hotel employee in 2012 and the beating of a woman on a riverside trail earlier in August, authorities said. (E.J. Harris / East Oregonian / AP)
PORTLAND, ORE. — A deserter from the Marine Corps has been captured in Pendleton and accused of the killing of an Eastern Oregon hotel employee in 2012 and the beating of a woman on a riverside trail earlier this month, authorities said Thursday.
Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said 23-year-old Lukah Pobzeb Chang is accused of murder and attempted murder.
Chang was captured Wednesday at the local convention center. Roberts said he had been hiding there for about a week, stealing meals from a food-service company’s leftovers and sleeping in a crawl space above a ceiling.
Before the attack Aug. 9 on 53-year-old Karen Lange, Pendleton officers knew of Chang among the homeless population and had cited him for offenses such as trespassing. He gave a false name.
Since then, Roberts said, police found that DNA from the galvanized pipe used to beat Lange matched that on a knife found at the scene of the Aug. 14, 2012, killing of Amyjane Brandhagen. She worked in a hotel across the street from the Pendleton City Hall.
Roberts said the suspect cooperated with officers Thursday night and told them he’d left Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base in southern California. Roberts said Marine Corps authorities confirmed Chang had deserted.
“He was perfectly polite, articulate, all those things,” Roberts said.
A spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Lt. Ryan Finnegan, said Thursday that a person by Chang’s name is listed as a deserter. Finnegan said he didn’t immediately have other details about him.
Roberts said Chang is from Morganton, N.C., had been in the Marine Corps four years, left California on a bus last year and ran out of money in Eastern Oregon.
Chang’s initial appearance in court would be Thursday or Friday, Roberts said.