Little, Dwain Lee (1948
Raped and killed a teenage girl in Oregon in 1964 and
sentenced to life in 1966. Paroled in 1974 and killed 4 more people.
Received 3 consecutive life terms in 1980.
The Cowden Family Murders,
disappearance and horrifying murder of Richard and Belinda Cowden and
their two children captivated North America. Seven months after their
Sept. 1 disappearance from the Carberry Creek area near Applegate, the
Cowdens bodies were found about seven miles from their campsite. The
investigation eventually centered on paroled murderer Dwain Lee Little
who was seen buying gas in Ruch the day the Cowdens went missing.
Little was convicted of the rape and murder of a Tigard woman. His
parole has since been revoked, and he likely will never leave the Oregon
State Prison, but the Cowden case remains open until Little confesses,
OSP officials said.
File on Cowden murder overflows box
Wednesday, July 9, 1975
Medford, Oregon (AP) Quietly, and without fanfare, investigators
here continue to pore over clues in the Cowden family murder case, one
of the more bizarre multiple homicides in Oregon history.
It will be one year ago this Sept. 1 when Richard Cowden, his wife,
Belinda, and two small children vanished from their campsite near the
town of Copper in southern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains.
The four bodies were found by prospectors last April 12, 7 1/2
months after the family vanished.
Lt. Mark Kezar of the Oregon State Police has coorinated the
investigation, which he says remains very much active.
"The whole nature of the thing smacks of a weirdo," he said recently,
adding that the police know alot they don't feel free to discuss at this
Cowden, then 28, was a log truck driver from White City, Ore. He had
taken his family camping in the Siskiyous over Labor Day. He had planned
to work around his house, but plans to borrow a truck he needed had
So, they went camping, and on Sunday, September 1, Cowden and son
David, 5 went from the camp to Copper to buy milk.
It was 9 a.m.
None of the family was reported alive again.
A massive search for miles around the campsite turned up nothing,
although it is now known that the searchers were as near as 100 feet
from the small cave into which the bodies of the family had been
Lt. Kezar said an extensive investigation has put together this
Cowden returned with David to the camp, and the family went swimming
in adjacent Carberry Creek later that morning.
A short time later, probably before noon, the family was abducted,
probably at gunpoint, and most likely probably by someone they did not
Kezar surmises they were probably driven some distance away, forced
up the steep slope where they were found, and at least three of them
Medical authorities have been unable to determine how Richard Cowden
died. "It's a presumed homicide," said Dr. William Brady, state medical
examiner. "I'm sure he was shot, even though we can't prove it."
The skeletal remains of Cowden were found on a steep hillside. The
bodies of the other three were placed in the small cave, and the
entrance was sealed with rocks to disguise it and hide the bodies.
"We're sort of settled on our own ideas", Kezar said. "Whether it's
enough to go to grand jury with is another matter."
Cowden's father, who committed suicide some months ago, after the
family vanished, has been cleared, Kezar said.
"You have to remember, it was summer and there were all sorts of
people in that area--- so-called hippie types, a motorcycle group and so
He said the time lapse between the murders and discovery of the
bodies has hobbled the investigation but that some evidence still is
being evaluated by his office, the FBI and others.
The file on the case long ago outgrew it's folder and now overflows
a large cardboard box.
It includes hundreds of letters, some from mystics, some from people
who solved the mystery in a dream, and many more from people with a
hunch or an idea that might have been overlooked.
But, Kezar said, none have shed any light on the case, which, he
hints, may be but a small, but vital link from being solved.
M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: Sex.
Raped/stabbed 16-year-old girl; shot family of four
Life term, 1966 (paroled 1974); returned as parole violator, 1975
(released 1977); three consecutiva life terms for rape + attempted