Cold case: Hairdresser attacked, killed outside N. Portland bar - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold case: Hairdresser attacked, killed outside N. Portland bar

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Robbie Altom Robbie Altom
Robbie Altom Robbie Altom
Paradise Club Paradise Club

Robbie Altom was the cool uncle, adored by his nephew and six nieces.

Dawn Luna remembers Altom, a hairdresser, piercing her ears for her sixth birthday and teaching her about makeup.

A proud gay man, Altom lived in North Portland 30 years ago.

"He'd wear pink and yellow and laugh about it," said Luna. "He'd go to Darcelle's in Portland."

Luna was 10 years old when her beloved uncle was killed. She has always wondered if he was targeted because he was gay.

Altom was beaten outside the Paradise Club, a bar on North Vancouver Avenue, on Nov. 8, 1982. His skull badly fractured, Altom never regained consciousness and died three days later.

Thirty years later, Altom's killing remains unsolved.

"I felt a lot of anger afterwards," said Luna. "And when they couldn't solve the crime, it's like something in all of us that just lingered. That never knowing."

Cold case investigators are once again looking into the case.

Retired FBI agent Dick Pashley, who is volunteering in the Portland Police Bureau's Cold Case Unit, reviewed details of the case with Fox 12.

On the last night he was alive, Altom struck up a conversation with a couple at the Paradise Club.

He hit on the man, who got upset and hit Altom, knocking him off his barstool.

"As they were leaving, the male said to Robbie he was going to wait for him outside," said Pashley. "So the manager closed the door and locked it and suggested to Robbie he stay inside for a while."

When he bar manager left 15 minutes later, he didn't see anyone outside.

After another 15 minutes passed, the bar owner watched Altom leave.

"He was just sitting down when he heard kind of a thumping sound, it sounded like something banging up against the side of the club from outside," said Pashley.

The bar owner found Altom outside, bloodied and lying face down on the ground.

His wallet was missing, but investigators don't know if the attack was a robbery, a hate crime or something else.

The original investigators interviewed the couple Altom spoke with that night, but never connected them to the crime.

Pashley said two people could be key to solving the case - a person who called Legacy Emanuel Medical Center to ask about Altom after the attack and a man they believe held back information from police.

"Nobody cares about what their motivation was for not speaking up 30 years ago," said Pashley. "Things have changed and all that matters now is that detectives want to solve this case."

Many things have changed.

The Paradise Club is no longer there. An empty lot, soon to be condos, sits in its place.

Altom's mother and two of his siblings have passed away, without knowing who was responsible for his death.

His nieces and nephews, now all older than Altom when he died, still want nothing more than his case to be solved.

"It's awful not knowing," said Luna. "Just to have that closure would probably mend our hearts, ease our minds."

If you have any information about this crime, you can leave a Crime Stoppers tip online at, text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip, or call 503-823-HELP (4357) and leave your tip information.

Visit to download the Crime Stoppers app for the iPhone or Droid.

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