Detained Pendleton murder suspect was elusive

GRANTS PASS — The slaying of a maid in a downtown Pendleton motel had stymied police for a year, until earlier this month, when surveillance cameras along a jogging path captured video of a man hiding a length of steel pipe behind his back, sneaking up on a woman who was brutally beaten.

Two officers recognized the attacker as a local homeless man who went by the name of Danny Wu.

DNA from the pipe used in the attack on the jogging path matched a sample from the motel slaying, said Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts.

But Wu's name, fingerprints and the DNA samples did not match any nationwide databases, and while Wu's picture was circulated around the region, and there had been sightings for weeks, they had all turned up empty.

Then on Tuesday night, workers at the local convention center spotted Wu eating leftovers in the kitchen, Roberts said.

They called 911, and officers armed with assault rifles surrounded the vast building.

A state trooper looking through a window spotted a leg hanging down from a ceiling in a stairwell.

Confronted by officers and a police dog, the suspect came quietly, and under questioning, revealed he was a Marine Corps meteorologist, wanted for desertion after getting on a bus at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and never going back.

He apparently enlisted right out of high school in Morganton, N.C., and ran out of money when he got to Pendleton.

Lukah Pobzeb Chang, 23, was held without bail in the Umatilla County jail pending arraignment on charges of murder in the Aug. 14, 2012, stabbing of Amyjane Brandhagen, 19, in a room she was cleaning at the Travelodge in Pendleton, and attempted murder in the Aug. 9, 2013, beating of Karen Lange, 53, along the jogging path, Roberts said.

The attack on Lange and the revelation that it was linked to the Brandhagen slaying unnerved Pendleton, a high-desert town of 17,000 that is home to one of the nation's oldest rodeos, the Pendleton Roundup.

The two women attended the same church, and the attacks were almost exactly a year apart, Roberts said.

"It's great to have him in custody because it gives a little peace in the community," Roberts said.

Roberts said without the surveillance cameras, paid for with a $150,000 federal stimulus grant, they would still be looking for their man.

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