INDEPENDENCE, Ore. – Court documents released Thursday reveal the grisly details in the murder of an Independence police informant who was beaten to death and hogtied before his killers dumped his body near a cemetery.
Police found the body of 29-year-old James Watson Hawkes IV (bottom right) on Weyerhaeuser property in a wooded area near the Pedee Cemetery in the 13300 block of South Highway 223 in Polk County, Ore. Sunday.
Hawkes was only wearing boxer shorts when his severely beaten body was found. Police identified him from a shamrock tattoo on his arm and a booking photo from a recent arrest, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Hawkes recently worked as a confidential informant for the Polk County Inter-agency Narcotics Team and bought drugs from 44-year-old Jimmy Dewan Fears (pictured left), who was later arrested in Hawkes’ murder, according to Sgt. Mark Garton with the task force.
After a violent altercation and struggle with police, Fears was taken into custody as his hysterical teenage daughter screamed obscenities at officers, documents show.
Police also arrested 24-year-old Zackery Mersch (pictured right) in the murder. The suspects, who were each questioned separately, then began outlining the horrific details of how they mercilessly beat Hawkes to death in a Monmouth motel room, court documents show.
Mersch said Fears and he confronted Hawkes about being a “snitch” at the Courtesy Inn on North Pacific Highway in Monmouth on Dec. 11. Each man said the other was responsible for the beating death where Hawkes was punched around 50 times, subdued with a Taser, hogtied, and gagged with a sock and tape, documents say.
The men then reportedly wrapped Hawkes in a blanket and sneaked his body down the motel’s stairs and into the bed of a pickup truck. Mersch and Fears then drove around looking for a place to get rid of Hawkes’ body, eventually settling on the cemetery where they stripped and left the body, documents show.
The men then cleaned up the evidence at the hotel room and Fears dropped Mersch off at his home in Independence, according to the affidavit.
Fears and Mersch were arrested Monday and charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping.
Background: Two men arrested for murder in Polk Co. man