Cold case: Detectives believe 1983 murder was a case of mistaken - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold case: Detectives believe 1983 murder was a case of mistaken identity

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On February 9, 1983, Elamari Magdud, 25, was found bloodied, beaten and stripped of his clothes in the parking lot of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in North Portland. (KPTV) On February 9, 1983, Elamari Magdud, 25, was found bloodied, beaten and stripped of his clothes in the parking lot of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in North Portland. (KPTV)
(KPTV) (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Detectives are calling it an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. They believe a University of Portland student was murdered three decades ago, for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They're now chasing down new leads to catch his killers.

On February 9, 1983, Elamari Magdud, 25, was found bloodied, beaten and stripped of his clothes in the parking lot of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in North Portland.

"The fact that he was naked always leads some people to believe this was a sexual assault, but ultimately that was not determined to be accurate," said Detective Brendan McGuire. "Those who found him initially thought it was February, maybe it was possible this wasn't a homicide at all, but a transient who had died from exposure to the elements."

That theory was ruled out rather quickly. Detectives discovered Magdud lived a matter of blocks from where he was killed and was a Libyan national studying machine design at the University of Portland.

There was thought about this potentially being a hate crime, until detectives heard about a large fight nearby that broke out the same night.

It happened in the parking lot of two bars around the corner from the church off North Lombard.

"One of the parties was in the parking lot, at the time it was gravel, and one party spun their tires in the gravel, kicking up gravel onto someone else's car," said McGuire. "Those two individuals started fighting and ultimately friends from either side of the bar spilled out and joined in."

Officers broke up that fight and arrested one person who was later released. Investigators say Magdud was never involved, or even there, but was drinking across the street at a completely different bar.

"From the witness interviews and statements from neighborhood residents and folks involved, it appears a suspect from that initial fight returned to the scene later after bars had closed between 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning looking for members of the other side," said McGuire.

It was unfortunate timing for Magdud, because that's when witnesses say he also left the bar and caught the attention of those people looking for pay back. Magdud looked strikingly similar to someone they were looking for, according to McGuire.

"Thinking he was one of the combatants from the other side, they assaulted him and ultimately chased him behind the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and beat him to death back there," said McGuire. "Our victim, not only was he not involved in the fight, but the fight itself was incredibly petty. He had nothing to do with that and that is what caused his death."

Magdud's attackers took off and were never identified, or arrested. Detective McGuire is now working to hunt them down using old evidence and new science original detectives never had.

"We know the people involved in the fight and we have folks suspected of doing this," said McGuire. "In 30 years, people talk to a lot of people and it would not surprise me if some have spoken about this incident to others."

Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in any unsolved homicide and tipsters can remain anonymous. Information about any unsolved homicide is eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,500.

Information learned from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube should be shared as these tips may lead to the identification of a suspect or suspects. Links can be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

Submit an anonymous tip:

Text CRIMES (274637) - Type 823HELP, followed by the tip.

Online at http://crimestoppersoforegon.com/submit_online_tip.php

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