Murder Mystery at Aloha High School

Murder Mystery at Aloha High School

Who murdered two Aloha students in 1974?

by Brianna Epstein
Aloha High School Student Reporter

Beaverton, OR- Aloha High School, December 3rd 2009 about 11a.m. A young hispanic man enters the Aloha High School main office and turns in an Aloha class ring on a gold chain from 1975 to secretary Ms. Nieslanik. He claimed that he had simply found the ring while taking a walk in the neighborhood. Now flashback 34 years to October 1975.

Peter Zito, an 18-year-old senior at Aloha High School, and Donald Bartron, a 16-year-old junior at Aloha High School, were found murdered in the early morning hours on October 3, 1974. Their bodies were discovered shortly before 4 a.m. in the recreation center parking lot in Oak Hills (Cornell and 153rd). According to the Valley Times they were both shot between 1:30a.m. and 3:45a.m. as they worked on Peter Zito’s car.

According to Sheriff Warren Bud Barnes and Multnomah County Medical Examiner Larry Lewman, the youths were shot in the head at close range with a small caliber gun. Three shell casings were found at the scene along with a footprint in the dirt near the car.

Later that afternoon, authorities arrested and charged 18-year-old Joseph Wilson, also a student at Aloha High School, with two counts of murder. The Valley Times states that “sheriff’s deputies discovered numerous guns and more than 100 knives at Wilson’s home when they arrived there early on the morning of the slayings with a search warrant.” They also found a loaded .38-caliber gun under Wilson’s pillow. Wilson claimed that they were part of his deceased father’s collection, which proved to be true. However, none of the guns tested positive as a match to the gun used in the double homocide.

Wilson faced a judge for the first time on Wednesday October 9th for a bail hearing. Ricahrd L. Barton and J. Reynolds Barnes were hired as Wilson’s defense lawyers. District Court Judge Harold Lewis set bail at $25,000 for each of the two counts of murder. However, the hearing was cut short after the defense objected to the attempt by the state prosecutor to introduce Wilson’s privileged juvenile records in court. Washington County Release Assistance Officer Sam Juncker submitted a report to the court that showed there were two pending misdemeanor charges against Wilson in Multnomah County. Both of the citations were for carrying a concealed weapon. The bail hearing was postponed until the issue of the juvenile records could be resolved.

The deputy district attorney on the case, Georgia Outzs, indicated that the state would seek a grand jury inditement on the murder charges before any bail hearing. The grand jury did indite Wilson on the charges and during an October 21st bail hearing Washington County Circuit Court Judge Hollie Pihl set bail at $50,000 for each homocide charge as well as specifying release conditions and restrictions.

Meanwhile sheriff deputies were still trying to locate the murder weapon. They asked Oak Hills residents for their help in locating the murder weapon. According to District Attorney Ray Robinett, letters were sent out on Thursday October 24th to 600 homeowners in Oak Hills asking for their assistance in the investigation.

On October 28, 1974 Wilson made a court appearance to enter his plea. He pled not guilty and his trial date was set for December 3, 1974. However, before the trial started, his attorney Barton, filed a motion for a change of venue. He felt that his client could not get a fair trial in Washington County due to the publicity of the case. In his affidavit in support of the motion for a change of venue Barton stated, “In addition, the case is a constant topic of discussion among students in Washinton County, paticularly those from the Aloha and Sunset High School Districts.” Washington County Judge Hollie Pihl granted the motion and moved the trial to Clackamas County.

Before the trial could start, Washington County District Attorney Ray Robinett filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Wilson. In his motion Robinett stated, “subsequent to the indictment further investigation has exonerated the defendant.” Judge Hollie Pihl granted the motion and the case was dismissed on January 14, 1975, three months after Wilson was arrested.

Flashforward to January 2010. As far as we know, the case is still an open cold case. Deputy Strange contacted a detective at the Washinton County Sheriffs office and what happens now is all up to the detective. Will the ring be collected by the detectives as evidence? Will the case be investigated again? Who knows?

The mystery of the unknown ringman, two teenagers murders, and who the murderer is lives on.

The History of Beaverton, Oregon- Rose Biggi

Rose Merlo lived with her family until 1920 when she married a young Italian man who worked for her father, Louie Biggi. When her father retired, the Biggi’s bought 14 acres to farm near what is now Cedar Hills Blvd. Seven years later Louie died, leaving Rose to raise and support three children-and 14 acres full of vegetables. Three acres were the winter crop: horseradish. Rose had a friend who made a little grinding machine, and she ground the root grown on her farm in Beaverton. She traveled to Portland, Hillsboro and around Beaverton with her basket of ground horseradish. It began to catch on. A savvy businesswoman, Rose saved her profits little by little and began to buy the land surrounding their existing acreage. Rose eventually built a larger home and building which housed the Beaverton Horseradish Factory. The demand for Rose’s product continues today, with her children and grandchildren running the company. Beaverton Foods products are shipped all over the world, from the same location on Cedar Hills Blvd. in Beaverton.

History of the people of Beaverton, Oregon – Otto Erickson and Guy Carr: Car Dealerships

In 1915, Otto Erickson opened Beaverton Garage, the first automobile garage in town, with a capital investment of $3,500. Later that year he became Beaverton’s Ford Agent. In 1917 he added Hillsboro to his territory and by 1918, he was the Ford agent for Washington County. By 1920, that $3,500 investment had grown to over $96,000. Otto was president of the company and owned 80 percent of the stock. The other 20 percent was shared by his employees as a reward for faithful service.

Guy Carr arrived in Beaverton, in 1919, just after World War I. His step-father, Otto Erickson, was mayor at the time, in addition to owning the Ford dealership. Carr went to work for Erickson, demonstrating the Fordson Tractor (“A tractor was new, unheard of,” remembered Carr) and later assembling the Fords that were shipped in parts to the Beaverton Garage where he worked. In 1923, Carr bought out his step-father’s Ford dealership at the Farmington location, and sold Fords until the building burned in 1930. Twenty years and several dealerships later in locations around Beaverton, Carr moved to the present-day location on Southwest Canyon Road. In 1987, Guy Carr retired after 68 years in the automobile business in Beaverton.

Guy Carr served on the Beaverton City Council for several years. When the city went broke during the Depression, Bull Run water was cut off because the city couldn’t pay the $75,000 water bill. Carr and the other councilmen signed a $2,500 note, and proceeded to drill their own well with the help of friends.

History of the people of Beaverton, Oregon – Alonzo Cady: Beaverton’s First Mayor

Alonzo Brockway Cady settled in Beaverton in 1892, bringing his family boot and shoe business with him, and in no time was the towns leading merchant. He became Beaverton’s first mayor in 1893, shortly after the town was incorporated.