In the cluttered basement at 932 NE 12th St., a votive candle marks the spot where the body of Raymond Gene Atkinson Jr. was discovered on a pile of tools.
Nearby is the pool table where worried friends also found Atkinson’s fiancee, Natasha “Tasha” Newby.
More than six weeks after the Aug. 15 discovery, the basement remains a crime scene of an unsolved double homicide, though Bend Police detectives are long since gone.
Police won’t say what happened here, only that it was a violent crime — and there is plenty of evidence of that. Bloodstains are framed with police measuring tape. A 5-gallon bucket is ringed with dried blood. Blood can be found on many things down here — tools, furniture, moving boxes.
Family friend John Farley has been trying to help relatives clean the house. He moved into the house two weeks ago, but it hasn’t been easy living there. It’s been difficult to process what he’s seen in the two-story, four-bedroom home built in 1946. And to not worry that a killer will return. Farley said the couple was bludgeoned to death.
“It is very hard to sleep here,” Farley said. “It gets in my head because, you know, you don’t know if he’s going to come back.”
Few new details have been added to the official police account of the deaths. If police are worried about someone coming back, they aren’t saying who and no suspects have been identified.
Police won’t say more than homicide is suspected. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says the case is being worked hard by detectives every day, but won’t expand. The couple’s friends and family still don’t talk to the media.
Whatever story comes out, the house in the shadow of Pilot Butte may factor into it. The home was owned for five decades by Atkinson’s father, Raymond Sr., and was where the younger Atkinson grew up.
Since his father’s death in 2019, the home has been at the center of a contentious legal dispute between Atkinson and his older brother, Ken, county probate records show.
Ken Atkinson, 53, and Atkinson Jr., 34, were the only children of senior Atkinson, who died last year without a will.
Two months after his father’s death, Atkinson Jr. asked the court to make him the personal representative of his father’s estate, which is valued around $400,000, including the $391,000 value of the home on 12th Street, according to court records.
Ken Atkinson quickly objected. He told the court his father did have a will he kept in a safe deposit box, but his brother had added his name to the box to control the will, court records show. Atkinson Jr. denied it.
A judge ultimately ruled that the brothers be made co-representatives of their father’s estate. The division of assets was ongoing at the time of Ray Jr.’s death.
The Bulletin tried multiple phone numbers associated with Ken Atkinson without reaching him. His probate attorney, Lawrence Erwin, told The Bulletin, “We are in ‘no comment’ status for now.”
Ken Atkinson currently lives Ely, Nev. He grew up in the Bend area and worked numerous jobs here, said his aunt Loretta Atkinson, who lives in Lakeview.
There was tension between the brothers that worsened after their father died, she said. There are questions she wants answered.
“Detective-wise, I’m waiting to see what they come up with. I want to know,” she said. “I have my thoughts but I can’t tell you what I think.”
When Atkinson Jr. died, Washington resident Jonathan Woodstock was named trustee of his estate. Woodstock and Atkinson Jr. have the same mother, Terri Sue Woodstock, who died three years ago.
Earlier this month, Woodstock relocated to Bend to secure the 12th Street house from looters and prepare it for sale, Woodstock’s attorney, Brian Thompson, said. So far, Woodstock has had to scrub blood from the basement and move furniture.
He’s also been subject to Ken Atkinson’s attempts to remove him from the property, court filings show. On Thursday, Ken Atkinson, through his lawyer, filed an eviction notice against Woodstock.
“The property is owned by Raymond G. Atkinson, deceased. Kenneth Atkinson, is a co-personal representative of the estate. Defendant has brought himself, his girlfriend and another couple to stay at the house. We have asked Detective Adam Juhnke with Bend PD to remove them but he refused to do so as ‘it was a civil matter,’” the eviction notice reads.
A telephone conference in the matter is scheduled for next week.
Though Woodstock declined to comment to The Bulletin, a GoFundMe page he established makes his feelings clear. Using his previous legal name, John Lane, Woodstock compared his brother’s death to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.
What friends won’t say about the couple to reporters, they’ll say on social media. In a video of a vigil for the couple Facebook, friends described them as inseparable, sweet and fun to be around. Several called the pair “innocent.”
One friend described a difficult time in her life and how the couple kept her company.
“Not a day went by when she didn’t check on me, or Ray didn’t check on me,” she said. “I’m just going to miss them so much and I know everybody else is. I love you guys.”
Friends of the slain couple have stopped by the house to pay their respects. They left flowers, San Francisco 49ers paraphernalia and bottles of Corona beer. Corona was the younger Atkinson’s beer of choice, Farley said.
The bottles kept falling over, so Farley moved an old chest of drawers to the front yard and built a shrine. He didn’t know what else to do.
He’s shown them the basement, too.
“People want to come down here to just look, to get closure of some sort,” Farley said as he stood in the basement. “We don’t usually tell them no.”