The Umatilla/Morrow Major Crimes Team is investigating a home invasion assault that left a 79-year-old woman in critical condition Wednesday.
According to Umatilla County District Attorney Daniel Primus, Joyce Key was attacked in her home on Schubert Lane in Umapine. Key was reportedly in critical condition Wednesday evening at a hospital in the Tri-Cities area.
Key was discovered in her home Wednesday morning at roughly 8 a.m. by her son, who called dispatch. Scanner traffic following the initial report indicate Key had suffered injuries to her head and face.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the report, and at 10:45 a.m., Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan called out the Major Crimes Team to investigate the assault.
“We don’t have any suspects at this time,” Primus said this morning. “We do have a person of interest we are trying to locate.”
Primus also stated the motivation for the attack is not yet clear.
“It’s being investigated as a home invasion assault,” Primus said.
The assault has also spawned a social media outcry, with local residents expressing their dismay on Facebook. Some residents have expressed frustration at the perceived lack of law enforcement coverage of the area west of Milton-Freewater, with a few advocating direct action by citizens.
One area resident, Victor Jacob Marly, posted an open letter to state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, on the site.
Marly stated his property has been burglarized and he has witnessed car thefts in the area. Marly also says he is the son-in-law of the late Cecil “Rob” Carter, who was gunned down in his plumbing shop last winter.
“We are not getting much help from our law enforcement so now we are begging you to help us Mr. Smith.” Marly wrote. “What can you do for us to rid us of this problem?”
Smith said in a phone interview this morning he plans to talk with Marly later today.
“This is a gentleman who has raised a serious issue,” Smith said, adding he plans to contact local law enforcement agencies to potentially schedule a public forum style meeting to “address issues of public safety in Milton-Freewater.”
“The best way to do that is to engage the public,” Smith said, adding it will be important for community members to develop a relationship with recently sworn-in Sheriff Terry Rowan.
U-B reporter Alfred Diaz contributed to this story. Luke Hegdal can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8326.