Murder of public defender Bergeson unsolved

Murder of public defender Bergeson unsolved

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by Kyle Iboshi, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 6:21 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 27 at 6:55 PM

PORTLAND -- Four years after the unsolved murder of a federal public defender new details are emerging in the case.

Police now have questions about Nancy Bergeson's dog, signs of a struggle and a door-to-door salesmen. Records indicate Bergeson's home was burglarized two months before her murder.

On November 24, 2009 police were called to Bergeson's Southwest Portland home. The federal public defender was found dead in her dining room.

Initially, investigators thought she died of natural causes. The house wasn't ransacked and there was no sign of forced entry. But an autopsy later determined the 57-year old had been strangled.

"It's unbelievable that someone would want to harm her or held a grudge in any way against her," said former teammate Pam Hull from the Wasabi Paddling Club.

On September 21, 2009 there was a daytime break-in at Bergeson's home. Investigators tracked down who was behind the burglary and recovered the stolen item: Bergeson's iPod.

"What we found through that investigation is that none of the people that we found were involved in that homicide," said Detective Michele Michaels of the Portland Police Bureau.

This was just one of hundreds of leads the homicide unit would follow-up on.

Over the past four years, police have interviewed more than 800 people and knocked on every door in the neighborhood.

Detectives used a three page questionnaire to quiz neighbors. It included questions "Did you notice anyone in the neighborhood with injuries to their face/head?"

Since there were signs of a struggle, and since she's a fighter perhaps she got a blow in, and if she did, then somebody might have seen someone that had a black eye or a bloody lip," explained Det. Michaels.

Investigators also asked neighbors about Nancy's dog, a Golden Retriever that often ran off-leash in the neighborhood.

"Some people in the neighborhood were not so happy about that and there were even some altercations," said Det. Michaels.

Investigators theorize Bergeson was killed during the dark overnight or early morning hours.

Her property sits along a TriMet bus line and was often used as a short-cut by pedestrians. Police say a group of door-to-door magazine salesmen passed through the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to Bergeson's death. They are hoping to speak with any witnesses.

Investigators admit the Bergeson case is especially challenging because Nancy came into contact with so many different people both personally and professionally.

"We're going to continue. We're going to do our best to solve it, I think it can be solved and we're going to see it to the end," said Det. Michaels.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case at 503-823-HELP (4357).

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