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Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

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Background photo of the beach at Whale Cove was made by Bryce Buchanan in 2004. (Via WikiMedia Commons, cc/by/SA)

 

 

PORTLAND, MULTNOMAH COUNTY; 1920s:

100-year-old slasher murder still baffling today

By Finn J.D. John
August 1, 2021

IT WAS A little after 10 p.m. on a Friday evening in the summer of 1921. In their little house on Druid Street in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Robert Green and his family were getting ready for bed when they heard the screams.

Rushing to the front porch, they found their neighbor, Ann Louise Agee, in her nightclothes, wild-eyed and disheveled.

“Help! Come quick! They’re killing Harry!” she screamed.

Green looked across at the Agee home. From where he stood, by the light of streetlamps and the few lights inside the house, he could dimly see the front porch. The door was opening and a figure was staggering out of the front door, clutching at its throat. Then it collapsed on the porch.

Green sprinted across and leaped onto the porch. There he found his neighbor, carpenter Harry Agee, in a pool of blood, dying.

Looking up at him, Harry opened his mouth and tried to speak. Only a ghastly gurgling resulted from the effort.

Harry’s throat had been slashed open. Whoever had done it had missed the jugular vein, but had cut through his windpipe. Harry’s lips were moving as if he were speaking, but no words were coming out. It was as if he were trying to tell Green who had attacked him, but could not.

And before he could figure out a way, he lapsed into unconsciousness from the blood loss. He died a few minutes later, on the way to the hospital.

This was the opening act in a murder drama that would hold Portland spellbound throughout the summer of 1921 -- and one that would convince thousands of Portlanders to lock their doors at night. ...


This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then, on June 11, 2021, the rest of this article will appear here!

In the meantime, you can probably find it published on the Website of one of our member newspapers or community radio stations. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In "reader view" some phone browsers truncate the story here, algorithmically "assuming" that the second column is advertising. (Most browsers do not recognize this page as mobile-device-friendly; it is designed to be browsed on any device without reflowing, by taking advantage of the "double-tap-to-zoom" function.) If the story ends here on your device, you may have to exit "reader view" (sometimes labeled "Make This Page Mobile Friendly Mode") to continue reading. We apologize for the inconvenience.]

(Jump to top of next column)

This photo spread ran in the Portland Sunday Oregonian on June 12, 1921, the day after the murder took place. It includes the Agees’ modest Druid Street home, in the St. Johns neighborhood; Louise and Harry Agee; the two Agee children, ages 6 and 2; and an architectural plan of their home. The location where the jewelry was found dumped is marked with a “J” and the spot where Harry Agee collapsed is marked with an “X.” (Image: Univ. of Oregon Libraries)

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