Killing suspect was on work release

The Associated Press /

SALEM — The suspect in the killing of a Silverton woman last weekend was serving a 90-day sentence for assault but had been put in a transitional work release center and was out of custody at the time of her death, authorities say.

The suspect, 43-year-old Jason Clifford Down, had also been under a restraining order aimed at protecting the woman slain in her house, Cassandra Wagner, last Saturday.

Authorities haven’t described how Down and Wagner, 50, were linked or why she sought the restraining order. No charges have yet been filed in her death.

When Wagner got the restraining order against Down in August his probation was revoked, his lawyer, Stephen Lipton, said.

Down was then sentenced to 90 days. Marion County authorities placed him in the county’s work release center, described as a minimum-security transitional program for inmates expected to be released back into the community.

It allows releases for employment, treatment and medical appointments. Authorities haven’t said why Down was assigned there and not to the jail itself.

Down was released Saturday at 8 a.m. and told to return by 6 p.m.

On Saturday afternoon, officers responding to a report of a shooting found Wagner’s body in her Silverton home and began searching for Down.

He appeared at the Silverton Hospital on Sunday morning with injuries that authorities haven’t described publicly. A prosecutor said he’s been transferred to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Once Down is released from the hospital, he’ll return to the Marion County jail to finish serving time for the assault charge, Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy said.

“I would expect any charges that come from this would be filed while he’s still serving that sentence,” Kemmy said.

The Marion County jail has a capacity of 415, and there are 144 more spots at the work release center, Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Parise said in a statement.

A capacity management plan helps the jail staff to determine whether inmates are put in jail or the work release center, the statement said. Those slotted for the center are subject to a review conducted by a jail counselor, a lieutenant and the work center sergeant, it said.

“Without the work release center, these sentenced inmates would be released directly to our community without transitional planning or supports in place,” it said.

Citing an open criminal investigation, Parise wouldn’t describe what factors resulted in Down’s placement at the work release center.