Pendleton police seek transient in linked cases

PENDLETON — Pendleton police are looking for a transient labeled a "person of interest" in an attack on a woman walking on a river trail, an attack now linked to a 2012 killing.

In run-ins before the Aug. 9 assault, the man identified himself to officers as 23-year-old Danny Wu, the East Oregonian reported.

But the man has never had identification, and police have found nothing to verify what he told officers, Chief Stuart Roberts said. The man has since vanished.

The victim, a 53-year-old woman, remains hospitalized in critical condition at a Portland hospital.

Last week, Roberts said DNA evidence on a piece of galvanized pipe used to bludgeon the woman matched DNA from a knife at last year's killing of 19-year-old Amyjane Brandhagen. She was killed at her job in a hotel across the street from Pendleton's City Hall.

Roberts said Monday the Oregon State Police will examine DNA from personal items and clothing of the man left from his arrests for such offenses as trespassing and illegally living along the Umatilla River levee where this month's attack occurred.

Roberts said he's released an unusual amount of information about the case because authorities consider the man such a threat to the community.

"I think it's absolutely imperative based on how little is known about him and how dangerous he can be," Roberts said.

Neither this month's attack nor the killing of Brandhagen involved sexual assault or robbery, Roberts said, leaving investigators with one other potential motive.

"It really is about the violence," he said.

Roberts said surveillance video shows the man following the victim Aug. 9 and coming out of a restroom where police believed he cleaned up after the attack.

Investigative avenues such as checking states that use facial recognition software for driver's licenses have led to dead ends, Robert said. So has checking with military authorities — the man has a "Semper Fi" tattoo on his left forearm.

Police have gone to the homes of Pendleton residents who could be considered vulnerable to a home invasion and found no trace of the man, Robert said.

While the man frequented the levee where homeless people have congregated, they consider him a loner, Roberts said. Other factors set him apart, the chief said: He was better groomed and fed, and there was evidence such as movie ticket stubs that he had means of some sort.

Roberts said police have found no evidence of government benefits, nor evidence that anyone else sends the man money.

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