2 accused after Portland hiker and dog found dead in Lewis County
LEWIS COUNTY Wash. (KPTV) – Two people are being referred on manslaughter and animal cruelty charges following the death of a Lewis County hiker and his dog.
The body of Aron Christensen, 49, of Portland, was found Aug. 20 on the 101 trail approximately 3 to 4 miles from Walupt Lake in eastern Lewis County.
The following day, a family member of 20-year-old Ethan Michael Asbach contacted the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office saying they had possible information on the death.
During the following investigation, deputies learned Asbach and a 17-year-old female left the Walupt Lake trailhead around 9 p.m. Aug 19 to hike to Sheep Lake Campground to meet with a family member of Asbach.
Both Asbach and the teenage girl stated while hiking they heard growling noises and saw the eyes of what they believed to be a wild animal. Asbach told deputies out of fear, he fired a single shot from a gun toward the animal.
A short time later the two checked the area and found the body of Christensen and his dog. The two said they continued to hike but took the wrong path before exiting the woods the next day.
Aron Christensen’s friends tell us this latest update does provide some relief, but that they still have more questions than answers.
Close friends describe him as thoughtful and loyal.
“Just a beautiful soul,” Erin Buck-LoPiccolo, a close friend, said.
“Real present kind of guy. Kind of guy that would really listen to you,” Ezra Meredith, a close friend, said.
And said he was a talented musician.
“He came to me with a band and I recorded the band and we became real quick friends,” Meredith said.
“He was heavily involved in the music scene around Portland.”
They say he was also an experienced outdoorsman.
“He was also a fisherman, a great cook,” Meredith said.
So on Friday, Aug. 19, when Christensen decided to go on a solo hike with his puppy Buzzo while camping with a group at Walupt Lake Campground, his friends said they didn’t think twice.
“He likes to go on hikes, he went on a lot of solo excursions, so it wasn’t weird for him to break off,” Meredith said.
But when Christensen still hadn’t returned late Saturday afternoon, the group started to worry. Shortly after, a friend spotted a deputy with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office near their campsite. According to LCSO, deputies responded to reports of a death in the area and located the bodies of both Christensen and his puppy.
Friends said it’s been a frustrating couple of months without any answers. Now, the sheriff’s office said the case is a homicide investigation and they have referred charges for two people for first-degree manslaughter.
People closest to Christensen said the latest developments do point them in the direction of closure.
“We felt there was a lot of feet dragging, so it does feel good to get this information,” Meredith said.
But said with this sort of pain, there may be no amount of justice that can heal the loss of someone so special.
“It didn’t need to happen so it’s always going to hurt no matter what,” Meredith said.
“He’s just deeply missed,” Buck-LoPiccolo said.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said Asbach, as well as a 17-year-old female, are being referred for charges of manslaughter in the first degree, as well as animal cruelty in the first degree.
Buzzo the puppy was an Australian Cattle Dog, and friends said Christensen had just gotten him earlier this year.
Copyright 2022 KPTV-KPDX. All rights reserved.