Police: Rogue River murder suspect dismembered bodies
A burly 65-year-old woman allegedly murdered her former handyman and at least one other person and dismembered their bodies at her rural Rogue River farm in separate crimes over the past 17 months, authorities say.
It was the recent use of an Oregon Trail card issued to one of the suspected victims, 56-year-old Robert Haney, that brought detectives to Susan Monica's doorstep, where the grisly case began to unfold Friday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators have found what they believe to be the remains of Haney, a handyman who family members said answered Monica's online advertisement for work, and an unidentified second person at Monica's 20-acre ranch off West Evans Creek Road, according to the sheriff's department.
Investigators continue to comb the property for more evidence, including the possibility of other victims, and the search of the property could drag on for several days, if not weeks, sheriff's detectives said.
There was no direct evidence of other victims, "but we can't rule that out at this time," Detective Julie Denney said.
Denney said investigators believe they know the identity of the second victim but declined to disclose any more information, including whether the victim was male or female.
Investigators believe Haney was killed on or about Sept. 9, while the other alleged victim was believed to have been killed on or about Aug. 1, 2012, court documents state.
The task of identifying the bodies lies with the medical examiner's office, and no official findings were expected in the immediate future, Denney said. She declined to elaborate on the condition of the remains at a press conference Tuesday.
A Jackson County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Monica on two counts each of murder and first-degree abuse of a corpse as well as one count of identity theft.
Denney declined to say how investigators believe Haney and the second victim were killed or attribute any motive to Monica, a purported U.S. Navy veteran and wrought-iron welder who stands 5 feet 11 inches, weighs 260 pounds and is bald, according to jail records.
The abuse of a corpse allegation specifies the mutilating or dismembering of the victims' bodies. Denney declined to discuss how investigators believe those crimes occurred.
Denney also refused to say whether Monica, who has been jailed since Friday, has cooperated with investigators.
Family members believe Haney answered Monica's online advertisement for a handyman last year, and Denney said he at one time was living in a camper on the property. Family members lost track of Haney for at least two months before reporting him missing on New Year's Day, Denney said.
As sheriff's detectives looked into the missing-person case, they developed information that Monica had used Haney's Oregon Trail card without him being present, Denney said. She declined to elaborate.
Armed with a search warrant in the identity-theft case, detectives began to search Monica's farm at 9184 West Evans Creek Road on Friday and "found evidence that a homicide had taken place," Denney said.
Police have remained at the sealed-off farm ever since, Denney said. Investigators also have sought and received two other search warrants for the farm, and all three warrants remained sealed under a Jackson County Circuit Court order.
Monica had an arraignment hearing on Tuesday's indictment scheduled for Jan. 21 in Jackson County Circuit Court, court records show.
A welder by trade, Monica bought the 20-acre farm in 1991 and it includes a large barn, a pond, several outbuildings and brushy areas. The farm was the base for her wrought-iron fence and gate building company, which was registered with the state of Oregon as White Queen Construction in 2012.
Patiphon Pana, 49, of Grants Pass, said he rented a room from Monica for four years before he left last May.
The Thai native said no one else was living at the property in August 2012 when the first murder was alleged to have occurred and he recalled seeing nothing unusual there at that time.
Pana said he paid $250 a month and later $300 a month rent, sometimes working it off on the farm. He considered Monica to be a good landlord, but she did kill three of his pets in 2012 — two dogs she accused of killing her sheep and a cat she accused of killing young chickens, Pana said.
Monica has a limited criminal history in Jackson County that includes a 2001 conviction for resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person.
Jackson County code-enforcement agents had four complaints against Monica dating back to 2006, ranging from complaints of people living in vehicles there to large accumulations of solid waste, said Kelly Madding, the county's development services director.
The solid-waste case was the county's last with Monica and it was deemed cleared in February 2011, Madding said.
Monica in 1995 filed a federal suit in U.S. District Court against Jackson County, but it was dismissed three months later, federal court records show. The specifics of that complaint were not available Tuesday.
Monica on Dec. 12 entered the Rogue River Police Department to report that a male friend was recently harassed in the Gold Hill area, police Chief Ken Lewis said. She was referred to the sheriff's department because the alleged harassment occurred in its jurisdiction, Lewis said.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.