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Wolf Creek man charged in girlfriend's killing

WOLF CREEK — A Wolf Creek man faces a manslaughter charge in the death of his girlfriend, whose body he dropped off at a friend's house before fleeing police in July.

Detectives charged Joseph George O'Dell, 24, with first-degree manslaughter on Friday. He remains lodged without bail in the Josephine County Jail.

O'Dell reportedly dropped off his unconscious girlfriend at a home in the 7800 bock of Lower Grave Creek Road near Wolf Creek and left before emergency crews arrived.

Police were told Caitlyn C. Strauser had drowned in Grave Creek about five miles from the Lower Grave Creek Road home.

An autopsy performed by a state medical examiner determined her cause of death to be a homicide.

O'Dell is a longtime resident of Wolf Creek with no known address. He and Strauser were involved in a year-and-a-half-long relationship, during which it is alleged O'Dell abused her, according to the sheriff's office.

A state medical examiner in July ruled Strauser's death a homicide by blunt-force trauma.

In late July, O'Dell turned himself in and was lodged in jail on a felony warrant for failure to appear in court on an original charge for possession of methamphetamine and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson did not comment on the specifics of the case.

"We are still gathering evidence and will do so until the trial," Gilbertson said. "If anyone has more information on this case we would be happy to speak with them."

Under Oregon law, manslaughter occurs when someone acts recklessly and causes the death of another or if the suspect is under extreme emotional duress when the death occurs.

First-degree manslaughter is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years upon conviction.

Anyone with knowledge of any circumstances surrounding this case can call the Josephine County Sheriff's Office major crimes unit at 474-5133, extension 3511 or the department's confidential tip line at 474-5160.

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