Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Russell Obremski: A Killer's Luck

A Long History of Violence

Russell Loren Obremski was born in 1945 in Fort Klamath, Oregon. His mother died when he was 10, and he lived with his stepfather, whom Obremski claimed drank a lot and beat him regularly. A year later, he moved to Klamath Falls and was adopted by his grandparents.

Russell's history reads like that of a troubled man. He progressed from minor difficulties as a teen to larger difficulties as a man. According to family physician Dr. Neal Black, Russell was unable to adjust to life without his mother. He lied frequently, had poor grades, was retained in fifth grade, and passed from seventh to eighth only because of his age. Russell always had difficulty with other children, both in and out of the classroom. In school counseling sessions, his grandmother always tried to overprotect him and blame his problems on someone else.

Eventually, his disciplinary and truancy problems became so overwhelming, and he was so disruptive, that he was excused from Henley High School and asked not to return. 

Obremski was subject to violent outbursts. His juvenile record began at age 12 and included breaking school windows, making lewd phone calls, threatening girls with a knife, vandalism, and stealing gasoline.

He spent time at MacLaren School for boys, a juvenile detention center in Woodburn, Oregon, just south of Portland. Two months after being released from MacLaren, he beat up a younger, smaller boy on the street for no apparent reason. He'd been sniffing glue.

When he threatened his grandmother, she had him committed to the state hospital for a year. She was convinced his violent outbursts were the result of a type of epilepsy.

Russell Obremski

Before the Medford murders, Obremski served time for adult offenses including larceny, vagrancy and escaping from a correctional institution. His most serious conviction, however, was for carnal knowledge, which involved intercourse with a 14-year-old girl. He was released from a penitentiary a mere five months before that horrendous February day in Medford.

He'd been sentenced to 20 years. He served only 14 months.


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