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Richard Bernard DAHL





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Fit of jealous rage
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 25, 1977
Date of arrest: October 21, 1977
Date of birth: 1960
Victim profile: LeRoy Wine (an elderly farmer)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Gilliam County, Oregon, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on April 2, 1979

Body In The Barn

Volney Thomas didn't know what to make of it at first. Here was the body of LeRoy Wine, an elderly Gilliam County farmer, partially buried in a pile of hay in an old, mn-down barn 3 1/2 miles north of Olex, with two bullet wounds and a short piece of rope tied around one leg.

The veteran Gilliam County Sheriff had seen some strange things in his nearly three decades of law enforcement, but this had to be one of the strangest.

Wine had been reported missing Sept. 25, 1977. But few people in Gilliam County suspected any foul play since both his pickup truck and his young, 17-year-old companion, Richard Bernard Dahl, also were missing. The two had been close friends ever since Wine's wife left him to return to her hometown of Moses Lake, Wash., an incident which only fueled the growing rumors about an intimate relationship between Wine and Dahl.

But on Oct. 15, two teenage boys hunting for birds found Wine's body in a pile of hay inside an old barn and rushed to the home of Dolores Weatherford to report their startling find. Weatherford called Thomas with the news. Within 30 minutes, the Sheriff arrived at the scene. He found that Wine had been shot once in the shoulder and once in the back of the head by someone wielding a shotgun. That was a lot easier to explain than the small piece of rope still tied around Wine' s leg.

The investigation immediately turned to Richard Dahl. Both he and Wine's pickup truck were still missing, and Thomas figured there had to be a connection. He was right.

Investigators discovered Dahl, who had previously worked as a farm hand in California before hiring on at Wine's farm, had been stopped by an Oregon State Patrol trooper on Sept. 26 on Interstate 80 west of Arlington. Dahl was cited for having defective tail lights and no registration on the vehicle he was driving -- the old pickup truck belonging to LeRoy Wine.

Dahl was released, pending a court appearance. He never showed up in court, but police in Long Beach, Calif., arrested Dahl in mid-October on an OSP warrant. He was flown to Portland on Oct. 21, 1977. Sheriff Thomas arrived in Portland the following day to take Dahl back to Gilliam County to face a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting death of LeRoy Wine.

The investigation revealed Dahl had killed Wine in an apparent fit of jealous rage. Wine, who reportedly accused Dahl of abusing and molesting his son, told Dahl he was going back to his wife who had left him sometime earlier to return to Moses Lake.

During his trial in Gilliam County Circuit Court, the prosecution contended Dahl had shot Wine in the shoulder the night of Sept. 25, 1977, while Wine was sleeping in his bed, then followed the wounded farmer outside where he finished the job by firing a shot into the back of Wine' s head.

He then tied a rope around Wine's leg, attached it to the bumper of Wine' s pickup and dragged the body about 400 yards to the old, abandoned barn where he cut the rope and buried Wine in the haystack.

A 12-member jury convicted Dahl of first-degree murder on Feb. 9, 1979. Judge Gordon W. Sloan on April 2, 1979, sentenced Dahl to life in prison. Two days later, Sheriff Thomas personally escorted Dahl to the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem to begin his prison term.

Dahl was later released on parole. At last report, he was working on a ranch in Klamath County.



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