Timothy Allen Kelly, 22, of Irrigon, is the man who shot and killed Daniel Dechand, Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said Thursday.
“Kelly’s whereabouts are unknown at this time, but the Umatilla/Morrow County Major Crimes Team with the assistance of numerous law enforcement agencies are continuing to look for him,” Rowan said in a written statement.
Tuesday afternoon Dechand, 25, was in a 1992 Chevrolet Blazer that picked up Kelly while he was walking along West Highland Avenue just west of the city of Hermiston, Rowan said. The men did not know each other. David Wayne Newton, 51, of Irrigon, was the driver.
They drove through Hermiston and out to Sunshine Lane, where the shooting took place inside the vehicle. The sheriff’s office searched the Blazer and is holding it as evidence. Kelly bailed from the Blazer and took off near where the shooting occurred, Rowan said, and Newton rushed Dechand to Good Shepherd Medical Center, Hermiston, where he died.
“It is still not clear why Kelly shot Daniel Dechand, and until we have an opportunity to speak with Kelly, we can only speculate the reasons behind the shooting,” Rowan said. “There is still a lot of evidence to go through, people to talk to, and the team will continue their efforts to locate Kelly.”
Rowan said he hoped to have a photo of Kelly to release Friday.
Kelly has no criminal convictions, according to Umatilla County Circuit Court records.
Family and friends remembered Dechand as loving, joyful and poised to live on a better path after a troubled past.
Billie Sexton was Dechand’s cousin. She wrote in an email that Dechand loved his family and was there when she needed a lift.
“Daniel was fun, he lived life, loved hard and died way too young,” Sexton recalled in an email.
Cyrus Haskett of Echo said he and his wife met Dechand when he was just 8 or 9, and he became best friends to their son, Elliot. Haskett recalled when Dechand was a young man on a reading binge. Haskett said he is a book collector and gave Dechand a copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” that was worth hundreds of dollars.
“That book had particular meaning to me, and told I Daniel maybe he also could glean something from it,” Haskett said.
Though the book was valuable, Haskett said he never worried about it coming back. He said he knew Dechand would take care of it.
“I could trust him with anything I had.” he said.
Dechand, though, also battled with drugs, Haskett said, and that brought other woes into the young man’s life. But Dechand recently fathered a baby girl, Haskett said, and was working to turn his life around for her.
Local law enforcement had been busting Dechand for years, and court records show he had several convictions. His most serious appeared to be for first-degree burglary and vehicle theft in 2009.
Dechand pleaded guilty Friday — four days before his death — to attempting to elude Pendleton police in a vehicle and on foot. He was serving 18 months probation for the crimes.
Sexton said her cousin was not an innocent, but he also was much more than criminal records would show.
“He was a brother, a son, a cousin, a grandson and a nephew to a huge family that is shattered and in pain,” Sexton said. “My cousin was only 25 and someone murdered him. Our lives will never be the same.”
Dechand and his family deserve justice, she said, but that will give only so much comfort.
“Justice won’t take our pain away, but I don’t think anything will,” she said.
Dechand lived in and around Echo, home to his mother, Mary Dechand. She, as well as others, did not respond to requests for comment.
Rowan urged anyone with information related to the case or the whereabouts of Kelly to contact the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office at 541-966-3651.