Police believe the murders of an Ashland man living on Dead Indian Road and a transient camping out along the Bear Creek Greenway last September might be linked.

Police believe the murders of an Ashland man living on Dead Indian Road and a transient camping out along the Bear Creek Greenway last September might be linked.

A little over a year has passed since David E. Lewis, 46, was found inside his burnt home in the 12800 block of Dead Indian Memorial Road and Troy Dean Carney, 44, was discovered at his campsite, the victim of a gunshot wound.

Nine days after Carney was found a fire swept though the area where he had been camping. Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set by someone trying to destroy the scene of the crime.

"We find two men killed by homicidal violence on the same day and both scenes were covered by fire," Jackson County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said. "We cannot ignore the commonality here."

In addition, sheriff's investigators believe they have discovered a piece of evidence linking both crimes, but they decline to specify what it is.

"We need to keep that to ourselves so we know good tips from bogus ones," Fagan said. "If someone gives us that information we know we are onto something."

However, investigators have yet to find a link between to the victims.

Despite spending hundreds of man hours pursuing leads in the cases, detectives have yet to prove Carney and Lewis knew each other.

"We are fairly certain these two never spoke to each other when they were alive," Fagan said.

By releasing the information that the crimes might be linked, detectives are hoping someone might contract the department with information connecting the victims.

"Maybe we are overlooking something," Fagan said.

The men led different lifestyles.

Lewis had deep roots in the local community. He was a longtime area resident, known for protecting the land and helping neighbors., according to his family.

Investigators suspect someone ventured up the long driveway to his secluded mountaintop cabin, then had come inside and killed him. Detectives aren't disclosing how Lewis died. They also note that the total destruction of the cabin has eliminated much evidence.

Investigators haven't turned up a motive or suspect in the death of Carney, who was also found dead Sept. 4. Carney's body was found in a sleeping bag off a path that leads away from the Bear Creek Greenway between the Central Point freeway interchange and Table Rock Road. He had been shot at close range a few days earlier.

Carney had lived in the Rogue Valley a decade ago and had recently returned. In the interim he had worked as a "lumper," loading and unloading trucks and riding along with drivers.

"They lived different lives, but we cannot ignore the similarities in their deaths," Fagan said. "These have been long, exhausting investigations."

The sheriff's department is asking the public's assistance in providing information which links the victims. Tips can be left anonymously at the sheriff's at 774-8333.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.