Murdered Portland attorney's family, friends plead for help find - KPTV - FOX 12

Murdered Portland attorney's family, friends plead for help finding her killer

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Nancy Bergeson Nancy Bergeson

The murder of Nancy Bergeson has never made sense to her family and friends.

The vivacious public defender was loved by her friends in the dragon boat racing community and her co-workers in the federal public defender's office. She worked hard and rarely spoke ill of others. She was passionate about her family, her work and her hobbies.

"No one could possibly understand why something like this would happen to a person like Nancy Bergeson," said Pat Ehlers, who worked with her in the defender's office.

More than six years have passed and now Bergeson's family, friends and police detectives are making another plea for people with information to come forward.

"Even if it's just a gut feeling, even if it's a little idea that's been sitting in the back of your head, please come forward with it," said her daughter, Jamie Bergeson. "Because it may be helpful and my family and I would be incredibly appreciative for any progress we can make."

Bergeson was found dead in her home in the 4100 block of SW Hamilton on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009. 

A dog walker came by to pick up Bodhi, Bergeson's beloved golden retriever, and found her body.

Investigators say she was likely killed the night before or early that Tuesday morning.

Police found no signs of a robbery, but did find signs Bergeson, who was physically strong from years of running and paddling, struggled with her killer.

"She didn't want this to happen. She didn't go down easily," said Detective Michele Michaels. "She tried to stop this person. That's evident in the scene."

The murder stunned Bergeson’s family. It frightened people living in her quiet neighborhood, steps from Hamilton Park. It puzzled her many friends and colleagues.

"She got along with everyone on both sides of the work that we did," said Ehlers. "She cared deeply about her clients and was very passionate about the work."

Michaels said Bergeson had a big life and interacted with many people. They have not determined if Bergeson was killed by a stranger or someone she knew.

"Her job is only one possibility of where this person might have come from or a motivating factor and we did look into that," she said. "We've looked into a lot of aspects of her life extensively and just haven't found that one person that actually did this."

Detectives have interviewed hundreds of people and followed every lead.

For example, Bergeson’s iPod was stolen a few months before her death. Detectives found the iPod and the people who stole it, but determined they were not involved.

"We had leads and we've had things that looked good and were like, 'Oh, this is going to be it, this is going to take us there,'" Michaels said. "And then it wasn't."

The investigation into Bergeson's murder is still active. Detectives believe they can solve it with the help of information from the community.

"We're looking for the person out there that the killer has talked to or said something to that lets that other person, 'Yeah, this is a possibility,'" said Michaels.

Knowing who is responsible is important to Bergeson’s family.

"While in the beginning, I think I really was just dealing with the pain of her loss and the pain of the void,  now it's a little harder in terms of feeling that loss but also being so confused and so frustrated that there's not a clear answer of why this happened or why she's gone," her daughter said.

She said her mom became a lawyer to fight for the voiceless and to make sure everyone got a fair shot. Her mom deserves someone speaking up for her, she added.

If you have any information about the murder of Nancy Bergeson, contact Portland Police Detective Michele Michaels at (503) 823-0692 or

You can also 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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