A Navy veteran was gunned down while working at a Plaid Pantry near OHSU and the homicide remains unsolved 16 years later.
A customer discovered the body of Jason Childers in front of the checkout counter at about 4:30 a.m. on March 17, 1997.
The motive for the killing remains a mystery to Portland Police cold case investigators. Childers, investigators said, was a mild-mannered man who had no enemies, no criminal record and was not the type of person to confront a shoplifter.
"I don't know what this person's motivation was. I don't know why, why Jason?" said his sister, Ann Childers. "And it makes life seem somewhat unpredictable, when life can be taken that quickly and for no apparent reason."
Jason Childers was shot multiple times while restocking shelves. Evidence photos shared with FOX 12 show boxes of chips and a pricing gun lay nearby.
Some merchandise was disturbed, a sign of a possible struggle.
Investigators say no cash was missing from the register and Jason Childers' wallet was not stolen.
"It didn't appear to be purely a robbery," said George Young, a retired detective working in the Portland Police Cold Case Unit. "It seemed like there might have been something else to it other than just a robbery."
At the time he was killed, Jason Childers was engaged to be married. He had returned to Portland after serving three years in the Navy and lived with one of his sisters and then-teenage niece, Emily Rohay.
"He was a really kindred spirit to me," said Rohay.
The youngest of four siblings, Jason Childers was more like a friend to Rohay than an older relative.
"When my 28th birthday came around it was kind of bittersweet because I felt like I got past this milestone in my life and I wish my uncle had also," she said.
Shortly after the murder, an anonymous person called police and gave them a person of interest.
That man had an alibi, but the original investigators proved he was lying about what he was doing the night Jason Childers was killed.
It wasn't enough to move forward at the time.
While cold case investigators do not know if the man is responsible for Jason Childers' death, they would like to hear from the anonymous caller or anyone else who has information that could solve this crime.
Surveillance video is unavailable because of technical issues, so tips from the public will be key to the investigation.
If you have any information about this crime, you can leave a Crime Stoppers tip online at crimestoppersoforegon.com, 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 www.tipsoft.com to download the Crime Stoppers app for the iPhone or Droid.
Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
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