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Witness in Corbett woman's murder trial commits suicide


PORTLAND, Ore. -- A witness against a Corbett woman accused of killing her husband and burning his body last February took his own life last week, according to authorities.

Murder evidence revealed in court

Richard Swanson was a renter on the property of Hazelynn Stomps, 56, and her late husband Gerald Stomps.

Swanson shot himself on Wednesday, June 10, and was found at his Corbett residence by Multnomah County sheriff's deputies.

A medical examiner confirmed he killed himself.

Swanson had told detectives that he witnessed smoke coming from the Stomps property at the time Hazelynn Stomps allegedly chopped her husband up and burned his body.

Stomps had pleaded not guilty. She was brought into court in a wheelchair in May to hear prosecutors lay out their case against her. Previously, few details had been released in the case. But in court, prosecutors shared evidence they said will prove that Stomps is guilty.

They said blood on a gun indicated that Stomps shot her husband twice at close range and then burned his body. They also referred to charred bone and tooth fragments matching Gerald Stomps' DNA that were found on their rural property in early February.

In turn, the defense attorneys argued that police don't have a body and there was no clear motive. They said the couple was happily married for 39 years.

Hazelynn pleaded not guilty to charges brought on Feb. 17 and nearly a dozen family members present at the courthouse that day expressed disbelief that Stomps could be guilty of killing her husband.

Court documents also indicate that Stomps was killed some time between January 30 and February 6, well before Hazelynn Stomps allegedly staged her husband's disappearance.

Disappearance story a cover, police say

Gerald had not been seen or heard from since Friday, Feb. 6. That was the day Hazelynn reported to police that she and her husband had been beaten by two men while fishing near Oxbow Park in east Multnomah County.

Hazelynn told police that she and her husband were on a fishing expedition, when some sort of fight broke out, possibly involving one or more men who walked out of the woods near Oxbow Park.

At some point, Hazelynn said a gun was pulled and she was either pushed or thrown over a guardrail on a bridge, about 20 feet to the ground below. She said it took her two hours to crawl back up to the roadway where a Good Samaritan saw her and called 9-1-1.

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