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Woman faces two murder charges

A 65-year-old rural Rogue River woman investigated Friday for identity theft now faces murder charges for the alleged slayings of two unidentified people in the past 17 months.

Susan Monica, who lives on her rural ranch near Wimer, was arraigned Monday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court on two counts each of murder and first-degree abuse of a corpse, as well as one count of identity theft.

Court filings allege that one of the victims was murdered Aug. 1, 2012, and the other on Sept. 9, 2013. Neither victim was identified in court documents.

Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert said Monday that authorities believe they know the identities of the two victims, but they have not yet been positively identified. Autopsies had not been conducted as of late Monday, Heckert said.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia ordered Monica held without bail, and she was returned to the Jackson County Jail, where she has been held since Friday on identity-theft charges.

The case was expected to be brought before a Jackson County grand jury later this week, possibly as early as today, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Allan Smith.

The case began Friday when Jackson County sheriff's deputies served a search warrant at Monica's 20-acre ranch in the 9100 block of West Evans Creek Road as part of an identity-theft case, deputies said.

"While serving the search warrant, we found evidence that a homicide occurred," sheriff's Detective Julie Denney said Monday.

Denney declined to elaborate on that evidence, whether one or more bodies were discovered there or what spawned the initial identity-theft investigation of Monica.

Monica has a limited criminal history in Jackson County that includes a 2001 conviction for resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person.

Records show that Monica bought the property in 1991.

A neighbor who wished to remain anonymous said Monica was a welder who built wrought-iron gates and fences, and lived in part of a makeshift barn on her property, which includes a pond.

Denney would not comment on whether investigators searched the pond.

The neighbor considered Monica amicable and said she once served in the U.S. Navy and was a widower.

"She was an industrial woman, not a real feminine woman," the neighbor said. "She was a nice woman, as far as I knew."

Neighbors noticed police activity at Monica's residence Saturday and Sunday, with police barrier tape spanning her gravel driveway Monday morning.

Denney said Monday that police have been at the remote property continuously since Friday's search.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Woman faces two murder charges