Court records say murder suspect stabbed, bit, punched victim

A Grants Pass man facing murder charges in the death of his teenage girlfriend told police that she came at him with a knife and he took it from her, stabbing, biting, punching and possibly strangling her, court records said.

Nathanial Lee Geith, 25, appeared dazed as he appeared in Josephine Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon via video conferencing to be arraigned on charges of murder and third-degree escape. He is accused of killing 17-year-old Savanna Albertson.

Geith, who often went by the name "Nathan," is being held without bail in the Josephine County Jail. He was arrested Wednesday night when, covered with blood, he climbed a fence into a neighbor's yard in the 1400 block of Portola Drive, just a few hundred feet from his 1301 S.E. Oriole St. home. He tried to hide in the neighbor's garage, but was taken into custody. Officers then found Albertson's body at his home.

An affidavit filed with the court said that Geith told Grants Pass Department of Public Safety officers that Albertson came at him with a knife. After he took it away from her, he allegedly stabbed her 33 times, bit her face, punched and possibly strangled her. He told police he "overreacted," "snapped" and "went psycho" in a "rage" before fleeing with the knife.

Geith's aunt, Marie Brendon of Wolf Creek, said he was a high school track star who graduated from Glendale High School in 2003, then spent time in New Yord before returning to Southern Oregon three years ago. At about the same time, Geith's father died and the young man spiraled into trouble, taking methamphetamine, losing a job and struggling to keep a home.

Eileen Zink, co-founder of the Wolf Creek Teen Center, is serving as spokesperson for Albertson's mother, Darcy Albertson, and stepfather, Gary Riva. She said Albertson and Geith met at the 6 Truck Stop Grill & Deli in Wolf Creek where he worked. They started dating about three weeks ago.

Albertson was a witness in the manslaughter case against Joseph O'Dell , a 24-year-old who was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for the July 2009 killing of Caitlyn Strauser, but her family doesn't think that her role in the case led to her death.

Zink said Albertson had a dry, sarcastic wit and recently was elated over her new romance. She loved to camp and hike and volunteered with the Toby Fund, a Wolf Creek-based organization aimed at protecting animals. She had just earned her GED and was enrolled in engineering and mechanics classes at Rogue Community College.

— Stacy Stumbo, of the The Daily Courier, Grants Pass

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