Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Russell Obremski: A Killer's Luck

The Rampage

Oregon map with Medford locator
Oregon map with Medford locator

In the early afternoon of Feb. 3, 1969, in the small town of Medford, Oregon, neighbors of LaVerna Mae and Clifford Lowe heard shouting. Then they heard screaming—lots of it—but they couldn't tell where it was coming from. A short time later, they heard shots fired. Four of them.

Becky Rowe
Becky Rowe

At about 3 p.m., LaVerna's 8-year-old daughter Becky came home from school to find her mother, eight months pregnant, wearing only her robe and a torn bra, dead in a pool of blood on the sofa, four bullet holes in her head.

At 3:30 p.m. that same day, 16-year-old William Ritchie and his brother, 11-year-old Robert, left their widowed mother in her car in the parking lot of the pharmacy while they ran inside to pick up her prescription. Ten minutes later, they came out of the store to find her car missing. A few parking spots away, a hay truck idled, abandoned.

Betty Ann Ritchie
Betty Ann Ritchie

The next day, Betty Ann Ritchie's nude body was discovered on Carberry Creek Road, 34 miles southwest of Medford. She'd been killed by a single .22 shot to the temple, the muzzle of the gun held tightly against her head.

Twenty-four-year-old Russell Obremski was on a spree.

His was a case that terrorized the citizens of Oregon and confounded the legal system for 25 more years.


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