Portrait emerges of couple in fatal shooting

Portrait emerges of couple in fatal shooting

Family and friends portray a relationship between a Medford woman facing a murder charge and the former Medford police officer she allegedly killed as troubled.

A Jackson County grand jury on Thursday indicted Charlene Leuzetia Meixner, 45, on a murder charge and three lesser manslaughter charges stemming from the Oct. 20 slaying of Ray Glen Leach, 61.

"I got a shocking phone call late in the evening," said Leach's son Justin Leach. "It was especially disturbing because initial reports were that it was a suicide. Then I wake up to find it was a very different story."

The murder charge alleges that Meixner intentionally killed Leach with a gunshot to the chest inside Leach's home on Delta Waters Road. Meixner also faces single counts of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter. Additionally, the grand jury handed up a second count of second-degree manslaughter based on the theory that Meixner aided in a suicide attempt by Leach, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.

Justin Leach described his father as a hero to his family and the community.

"People who knew my dad knew him as a warm, generous, helpful man who enjoyed the outdoors, tinkering on his truck or a home project, riding motorcycles and playing guitar," he said.

Ray Leach served in the Army, then began a career as an emergency medical technician and volunteer fireman before working at the U.S. Forest Service. Ultimately he became a member of the Medford Police Department.

"He became a very well-respected officer," said Justin Leach. "While at MPD, he was a field training officer, a defensive tactics instructor, and he was promoted to detective, specializing in computer analysis."

But Leach's tenure with the MPD ended when he resigned in 2002 after he was sentenced to 10 days in jail for drunken driving when he smashed his car into a parked Medford police cruiser. It was Leach's second drunken driving conviction in two years.

Meixner moved to the Rogue Valley in 1998 from Yreka, Calif. She worked for a paramedical company doing mobile medical histories for insurance underwriters, performing blood draws, electrocardiograms, pulmonary-function tests and long-term care assessments and drug screening.

Justin Leach said he had heard from Meixner many times via phone calls, text messages and e-mails. While she was "very nice," encouraging him and his siblings to contact his father, there was something about Meixner that made him uncomfortable, he said.

"I am keenly aware of the pain her family must be feeling right now," he said. "Not only has she killed my father, she has shattered the lives of my family and her family. So, while I have not met them, I do feel sincerely bad for her children and the pain they are certainly going through, as well. But I felt she had a tendency to tell tall tales. I really only spoke with her because she was my father's girlfriend, and I didn't want to be rude."

In 2008, his father told him the relationship with Meixner was on rocky ground, Justin Leach said.

"He said it was breaking his heart, but that he'd get through it," he said. "(Ray Leach) really cared about her deeply, and it really did break his heart."

Keith Wetlesen, 52, met Meixner in April. After the two became friends, Meixner told Wetlesen she blamed Ray Leach's drinking for their relationship troubles.

"She told me all about Ray," said Wetlesen. "When he gets drunk he's a whole other person. She said he was really abusive, that she was trying to get away from him, and that he hit her, and he threatened to kill her and kill himself."

Wetlesen said he once saw bruises on Meixner's arms and shoulders that she said came from an altercation with Leach.

"He was accusing her of going off to see young boyfriends," he said. "He said if I can't have you no one will."

Meixner and Leach were together at the Central Point parade on July 4, Wetlesen said.

"Shortly after the parade, they went home and he hit the bottle," he said Meixner told him.

Justin Leach said Meixner sent him an e-mail this summer stating she "wanted to be left alone."

"She said, 'I want my space,'" he said. "She said she didn't want to have any contact with my dad."

Police in August were called to Leach's home during a domestic dispute during which a .38-caliber handgun — the same gun Meixner allegedly used to shoot Leach — was taken from Meixner. The gun was returned to her eight days later.

A search through court records shows Meixner did not have a criminal history in Oregon and there were no restraining orders filed by either Meixner or Leach. Both individually faced civil suits recently over bad debts.

Wetlesen said he last spoke with Meixner about three weeks ago. According to Meixner, Leach was still drinking and still abusive, Wetlesen said.

"She called out of the blue," he said. "She said (Ray's) doing it again. She sounded upset and like she needed someone to talk to."

She'd moved out of Leach's Delta Waters home and was living with "an older fellow in Jacksonville," he said.

"I think she was doing caretaking for him," Wetlesen said.

Meixner told Wetlesen she still had "a lot of stuff" over at Leach's property, including an RV trailer, which she wanted to retrieve.

"I advised her not to go over there," said Wetlesen. "She said she could handle him."

Meixner telephoned police about 8 p.m. Oct. 20, saying Leach had been shot in the chest, authorities said.

Wetlesen said he learned of the shooting through newspaper accounts.

"The last thing I would have expected was that she would have killed him," he said. "I don't think she's the kind of person who'd cold-heartedly want to murder him. Maybe she was attacked. I don't know what to think."

Police have declined to discuss a motive in the case. Hoppe, citing the ongoing investigation, declined to comment on autopsy results for Leach or toxicology screens on Meixner.

"Only two people in the room really knew what happened," said Justin Leach.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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