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Details emerge in double-slaying

MERLIN — Ed Pinkham, a retired Glendale schoolteacher, was on his way home from the bank Monday afternoon when he slowed for a van that was stopped in front of him on Merlin Road near the Merlin landfill.

Suddenly, a shirtless man was standing at the driver's-side window of his Toyota Corolla, blood streaming down his face.

"He said, 'I'm delirious.'

"I said, 'Well, I'm sorry, what can I do for you?' and he said, 'I want your car,' " Pinkham said.

Pinkham didn't know it at the time, but the man was Brian Killian, a 28-year-old transient who, according to police, had just killed retirees Jerry and Joann Jackson at their hillside home in nearby Colonial Valley.

Stranger-on-stranger violence is relatively rare in Josephine County, and the shocking slayings during an apparent home-invasion robbery remain difficult for the community to grasp.

They were the second and third homicides of the year, after a murder-suicide involving a married couple in Grants Pass in May. That's not counting an officer-involved fatal shooting in Wilderville last month and a fatal shooting in the O'Brien area in April that remains under investigation.

Authorities say that after the slayings, Killian tried to make a getaway in the couple's Chrysler PT Cruiser, only to crash the car near the landfill after driving the wrong way on Interstate 5. That's why he needed a new ride.

In an interview Wednesday with the Daily Courier, Pinkham said he was startled by the sight of the bleeding man, but didn't have much time to think about it before the man came through his open window, diving across him and into the passenger seat.

Once he was inside, Pinkham said, "He slugged me and he started kicking me. He kicked me in the ribs and was pushing me out."

A motorist traveling in the opposite direction stopped to help, and "the scuffle was on," Pinkham said. Eventually the two men managed to drag Killian out of the car.

An AMR medic who was passing by also stopped to help, and the trio pinned Killian down on the ground, Pinkham said.

"He was hollering and screaming; he was screaming that the pavement was hot, 'Let me up,' " Killian said.

They detained him until police arrived. Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said his deputies were dispatched to the crash scene at 3:43 p.m. — about 20 minutes after authorities received a report of a possible deceased person at the Jackson home.

Pinkham was injured in the scuffle but declined an ambulance. He later went to the emergency room on his own.

"I went home and my ear was still bleeding and it was sore, my ribs were sore," he said. He was also concerned because his blood pressure was elevated. It was not the day he had expected.

"It was wild," he said.

As details about the murders continue to emerge this week, Killian remains in custody at Josephine County Jail on a slew of charges, including aggravated murder, robbery, burglary and car theft. He also was charged with animal abuse for injuring two of the Jacksons' dogs during the attack. One has since died.

His next court date is June 23.

Killian has a lengthy criminal history in Josephine and Tillamook counties that includes a 2008 robbery conviction for pepper-spraying and robbing a female Abby's Pizza delivery driver in Grants Pass.

He got a six-year sentence for that crime, and was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for the victim.

According to the state Department of Corrections, Killian was released from prison for the Abby's robbery in September 2013 and within a year was in trouble again, charged with stealing a car and some electronics from a friend.

He spent only a couple of weeks in jail before he was released because of an undisclosed medical issue. When he later failed to show up to court in the case, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was still wanted on the warrant at the time of the murders.

He is now being represented by Salem lawyer Steve Krasik. Krasik said Wednesday that he hadn't yet met with Killian and couldn't comment on the case, other than to say, "These are very serious charges." He said his team is preparing to begin its investigation.

Police have said the killings were the result of a home-invasion robbery. It's not clear why the Jacksons' home was targeted. Friends of the couple and police said it did not appear that Killian and the Jacksons knew each other.

Court documents state that Killian also tried to take a car from a second home, on Bella Vista Way, a cul-de-sac in the same neighborhood as the Jacksons' house on Space View Drive. The charging document states that the weapon used in the killings was a knife.

Killian, described by police as homeless, frequented the Merlin area, and people who know him said he was often on foot. A worker at Lil' Pantry said he shopped there regularly.

He wasn't as welcome at Ray's Food Place.

"We were on the lookout for him because one of the local transients told us that he stole over $100 worth of meat from our counter and took it out to the transient camp and cooked it for them," manager Tim Smith said.

That happened within the past few weeks, and if employees had seen him since then they would have kicked him out, Smith said.

Reach reporter Melissa McRobbie at 541-474-3806 or mmcrobbie@thedailycourier.com