Eastern Oregon man is accused of killing woman

BEND — A prosecutor told a judge Tuesday that a Pendleton man is accused of killing a 78-year-old Central Oregon woman with a shovel blow to the head.

Deschutes County authorities say Joshua Leo Jokinen, 30, called them Saturday evening to report he might have killed a woman, and the body of Carolyn Burdick was found shortly afterward.

Burdick raised horses near the community of Sisters.

An autopsy showed the woman died of blunt-force trauma to the head, District Attorney Patrick Flaherty said. The prosecutor told a Circuit Court judge at Jokinen's initial court appearance that the weapon used was a shovel, KTVZ-TV reported.

Judge Roger DeHoog ordered the man held without bail. Jokinen is scheduled for another court appearance today. It was not known whether he had a lawyer.

It was not clear whether Burdick and Jokinen knew each other. Flaherty said more details would be available when Jokinen returns to court.

Sheriff Larry Blanton has called the killing a "strange, senseless act."

Jokinen was living in Madras in central Oregon when he was convicted of assault in 2006 and sentenced to six years in prison, KTVZ-TV reported. Police said Jokinen struck a man several times with a trailer hitch ball in an unprovoked attack.

Sheryl Webb told the Bulletin of Bend that she has a 10-year-old son with Jokinen, and he has visited the boy since he was released from prison. She said Jokinen had struggled with drugs. The Bulletin reported that before Jokinen went to prison, he had been convicted of possessing methamphetamine, as well as theft and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Webb said Jokinen was from Sweet Home and lived in Jefferson County most of his life, but most recently was living and attending school in Pendleton.

The killing occurred in a rural area a few miles east of Sisters where horse farms are common.

Neighbors described Burdick as a former longtime schoolteacher who had lived in Albany. They said she was a churchgoer who bred Arabian horses and had chickens, dogs and two parrots.

"She wouldn't hurt anybody," said Vernie Merritt, who lives nearby. "You wouldn't want a nicer person for a neighbor."

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