By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
|Bergeson Press Conference|
Bergeson, daughter of Nancy Bergeson, the federal public defender who was found strangled in her Southwest Portland home Nov. 24, appealed to the public to help Portland Police find her mother's killer at a news conference this morning.The daughter of an assistant federal public defender found strangled to death in her Portland home last week made an emotional plea today for information in her mother's case..
"She dedicated her life to the pursuit of justice, and I beg of you to do the same," said Jamie Bergeson, 23, who flew into Portland from Boston last week after getting notified of her mom's death.
Nancy Bergeson, 57, was found dead in the dining room of her home on Nov. 24. A girl who stopped by daily to walk Bergeson's golden retriever Bodie saw her through a front window and alerted a neighbor, who called police.
Portland police said they still don't know whether her death was tied to her work, committed by a stranger or someone she knew.
Crime Stoppers also is offering a $1,000 reward for information that can lead to an arrest.
Portland police were called to the home in the 4100 block of Southwest Hamilton Street about 3 p.m. that day. Patrol officers, a police forensic criminalist and a deputy medical examiner were sent to the scene.
The deputy medical examiner thought Bergeson's death was likely due to natural causes, and homicide detectives weren't called to the home to start investigating until an autopsy the next morning found Bergeson was strangled to death.
There was no sign of forced entry. Her front door was unlocked, which was not unusual for Bergeson.
Bergeson had just wrapped up her defense of a man in a tax-evasion conspiracy case just four days earlier after a three-week trial. The day before her body was discovered, the man Bergeson was defending in federal court was found guilty of preparing fraudulent tax returns.
Bergeson, who was born in Utah but grew up in Newport Beach, Calif., served 18 years with the federal public defender's office in Portland. Relatives said she had such a zest for life; she's been described as bold and passionate in whatever she pursued – whether it was her criminal defense work, love of animals, dragon boat races or friendships she cherished.
She had planned to fly to Boston to spend Thanksgiving with her 23-year-old daughter, Jamie. Instead, her daughter, who learned of her mother's death while still at work the night of Nov. 24, flew home to Portland.
Relatives said they didn't know of any intimate relationships Bergeson, who was divorced, had, or of any problems with her work clients. She would have turned 58 on Monday.
An FBI agent has been assigned to monitor developments in the investigation.
Live from the news conference:
10:32 a.m.: Jamie Bergeson has arrived at the news conference.
10:36 a.m.: Jamie Bergeson makes a brief statement pleading for help and then leaves. She spoke for less than a minute, with a quaking voice. She appeared on the edge of tears.
10:38 a.m.: Detective Paul Weatheroy is asking for the public's help. He aloso said the FBI has assigned an agent to monitor the investigation in case her death was related to her federal employment.
10:39 a.m.: Weatheroy says that no tip is too small. He has declined to discuss specifics about the case.
10:41 a.m.: Weatheroy says investigators do not know if the killer was someone she knew or a stranger. He says she lived alone at her house, where she was found.
10:42 a.m.: The Portland Police Bureau is taking the lead on the case, and "we're working on it day and night." Weatheroy said detectives plan to talk to all the victim's co-workers, review her past cases and talk to all her friends and associates.
10:44 a.m.: Police have not determined exactly when she was killed. "I know the community wants to know what happened to Nancy," Weatheroy said. "Her family wants to know what happened. We're in the early stages."
10:46 a.m.: Weatheroy spoke about the hours delay in recognizing the homicide and movement of the victim's body before homicide detectives were alerted. "Obviously that's not ideal," he said, but Weatheroy said he doesn't expect that to hurt the investigation.
10:47 a.m.: Weatheroy has finished his portion of the press conference and left the room. The press conference has ended.