Cold case: Woman murdered in SE Portland home while her kids wer - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold case: Woman murdered in SE Portland home while her kids were inside

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A Portland mom was murdered in her own home while her young kids were hiding inside. It's a gruesome crime that's gone unsolved for decades.

Portland Police Cold Case Detectives are now working to catch her killer after all this time.

The horrors of what happened inside the Fuson family home on January 13, 1976 haunt loved ones to this day.

"I remember that day, every piece of it, it's like it was yesterday," said best friend Lizzie Robarts-Dille. "There's been nothing, no closure, no peace for us in 41 years."

Robarts-Dille was Sherry Fuson's best friend. She lived with the Fuson family in the weeks leading up to Fuson's murder.

"She was a good daughter, a good wife, she was just taken way too soon," said Robarts-Dille.

On the night that it all happened, Fuson's husband, Robarts-Dille and some other friends all went out to a pool tournament. Fuson stayed back to watch her two young kids and Robarts-Dille's little girl.

While the group was gone, Fuson was attacked.

She was found viciously beaten and shot to death in the upstairs hallway of her southeast Portland home. Detectives say it was clear the 24-year-old mother fought for her life while her children hid in their rooms.

"She clearly had defensive wounds on her hands and arms as well, the medical examiner noted 10 significant blunt force trauma wounds to her head and face, there was a significant fight there," said Portland Police Cold Case Detective Brendan McGuire. "Ultimately, though, it was the two gunshot wounds that killed her."

McGuire is now going through 40-year-old case files to catch a killer who has flown under the radar this whole time. He says original investigators became fixated on how Fuson at one point made a living and ultimately, that muddied the case.

"Fuson was employed at several massage parlors in area and openly engaged in prostitution activity out of those massage parlors," said McGuire. "It was not a secret that she had this lifestyle, but everyone who knew it said she never brought the business home."

McGuire said there were significant witness statements from the kids that night along with statements from neighbors and other witnesses that were helpful, but not enough at the time to charge someone with a crime.

He's hopeful modern science might change that.

"There's new avenues of testing old evidence and scientifically evaluating that evidence," McGuire said.

Developments in the case, Robarts-Dille and her daughter brought to Fuson, where she was laid to rest.

"There's a lot of frustration, we've all carried this with us for 41 years and it's time for the ones of us that are left to get a little bit of peace, a little bit of closure in our life," said Robarts-Dille.

The next time she's there, Robarts-Dille hopes to be telling her dear friend, the killer was finally found.

"She was really a beautiful person. I mean, we all made our mistakes, we did things probably a lot of people didn't like, but she absolutely didn't deserve what she got," said Robarts-Dille. "It was brutal, it was a very brutal murder and somebody needs to help. You're out there, I know you're out there, so help us."

Fuson's husband has passed away and her two kids have since moved to Idaho. 

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.

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