After 20 years, mom now knows what happened to son, Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr.

Go down

Normal After 20 years, mom now knows what happened to son, Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr.

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:19 am

Sun Jul 4, 7:49 pm ET

TACOMA, Wash. – Karen Hull has been waiting 20 years to find out what happened to her son Walter in 1990. She finally knows.

Two decades after the 16-year-old Puyallup boy disappeared, one of his former classmates has confessed to murder, police said. Troy Culver was charged this week with first-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in Lincoln County, Ore.

Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr. was born in 1973 and grew up in Eastern Washington's tiny Kettle Falls. He was beaten to death, or close to it, 16 years later, 200 miles from home, when he was a student at a federal Job Corps center on the Oregon Coast.

His assailants: three older boys, fellow Job Corps students. After the beating, they carried Ackerson, perhaps still alive, to Newport's Yaquina Bay Bridge, 10 stories above the Pacific Ocean. They shoved him over the rail and watched him fall.

And they lied for 20 years, until August 2009.

Culver, 40, of Prineville, Ore., admitted to police that he killed the teen and threw him off the bridge. His bail has been set at $1.25 million.

Eric Forsgren, 40, of Warrenton, Ore., and Geoff Calligan, 39, of Auburn — have admitted that they helped Culver toss the body. They made deals with prosecutors to testify in exchange for immunity.

"Sucks, doesn't it?" said Hull, 59, director of the Pierce County Housing Authority.

Hull sees why the truth stayed hidden for so long: The people who could have solved the crime didn't try very hard, and tides and years washed the proof away.

Records of the criminal investigation, obtained by The News Tribune, reveal early patterns of skepticism and indifference.

In 1990, federal workers at the Angell Job Corps in Yachats, Ore., dismissed Ackerson as a runaway, despite rumors surrounding his disappearance. They waited weeks to tell his mother he was missing and gave her conflicting stories.

Police didn't chase a tip that said Ackerson had been thrown off the bridge, and years passed before they interviewed Forsgren and Calligan. The case was briefly reopened in 1996, then went cold again until a new generation of investigators reconsidered it nearly a decade later.

Mark Meister, a new sheriff's detective, wondered about gaps in the original investigation. He interviewed the three suspects and called a young woman who told Hull rumors about Ackerson's death. The men told pretty much the same story:

They skipped out of camp with Ackerson, hitchhiked to Newport and got a guy to buy them beer. Culver and Ackerson argued. The three older guys saw some girls on the beach, went down, played football, and left Ackerson with the beer. Ackerson was drunk and acting like a jerk. When they came back to look for him, he was gone. They figured he ran away. Kids ran from Job Corps all the time.

Four more years passed before the break came.

On Aug. 4, 2009, Oregon parole officer Ann Hawkins met with Culver, who was convicted in 2007 of encouraging child sex abuse and sentenced to 21 months. He was out of prison, under supervision, a convicted sex offender seemingly making progress in drug treatment.

Addiction therapy included admitting past wrongs, and Culver said he had something to confess.

Hawkins listened, then called police. Culver said he'd beaten a man to death 20 years earlier.

"Culver told me he carried the body to a bridge," Prineville police Lt. Jimmy O'Daniel wrote. "He threw him over the bridge, into the bay."

Hours later, Meister got the word the Culver had confessed to murder.

Ackerson had been whiny at the beach, Culver said: drunk and crying about a girl or something, wanting to go back to Job Corps. Culver, also drunk, was getting tired of the noise.

He hit Ackerson "again and again and again," he said. He slammed Ackerson's head against a tree. At some point, Culver realized Ackerson was unconscious, maybe dead, and he panicked.

He dragged the body up to the bridge with the other boys' help and threw him over the edge, thinking he was already dead.

Investigators went back to Calligan, a 14-year member of the Washington National Guard, and Forsgren, doing time in an Oregon prison, and played Culver's recorded confession. The men gave up the lies they said they had been telling out of fear for 20 years.

Ackerson's mother and grandmother are grateful to see his the mystery of his disappearance finally resolved, but it's still hard to forget the rebuffs they endured long ago, and hard to watch two of his assailants walk away.

"It's not justice," she said.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
avatar
Wrapitup
Founder
Founder

Join date : 2009-05-28

http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/forum.htm

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: After 20 years, mom now knows what happened to son, Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr.

Post by lisette on Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:11 am

What's with these Oregon LE? Don't want to group the good ones with the incompetent ones, but this in conjunction with what we know about Leah's case...makes me wonder!
avatar
lisette

Join date : 2009-05-29

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: After 20 years, mom now knows what happened to son, Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr.

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:28 pm

I thought the same thing, lisette. And, I love your avatar!

_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
avatar
Wrapitup
Founder
Founder

Join date : 2009-05-28

http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/forum.htm

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: After 20 years, mom now knows what happened to son, Walter Thomas Ackerson Jr.

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum