September 5, 2010

Couple charged with attempted murder

9-5-2010 Oregon

A Philomath woman and Silverton man have been charged with attempted murder and other offenses, including kidnapping and beating an Alsea woman to keep her from reporting an alleged sexual assault on a child.

Peggy Tennessee Watkins, 35, of Philomath, and Bryan Eugene Dover, II, 32, of Silverton, have been charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count each of unlawful use of a weapon and third-degree assault.

Secret indictments against them were issued by a Benton County Grand Jury on Aug. 10. Both already were in jail for unrelated charges.

The two are accused of kidnapping Christina Sawyer, 31, from her home on May 4, driving her to a remote location and assaulting her with a tire iron and a handgun. According to an affidavit filed with the court, the events of May 4 unfolded like this:

Watkins drove to Sawyer’s Alsea residence and lured her into the car with the promise of getting money that Watkins owed Sawyer. Soon after she and Sawyer drove away, Watkins picked up Dover, who was waiting along the road. Sawyer, who believed Dover had sexually abused a 5-year-old girl related to her, asked Watkins to stop and let her out. Sawyer couldn’t get the door open, and Watkins kept driving, eventually traveling up a logging road.

After the car stopped, Dover told Sawyer he wasn’t a child molester. When Sawyer told him child molesters “act just like you,” Watkins struck Sawyer in the head several times with a tire iron, and Dover hit her on the head with a handgun.

As Sawyer was vomiting because of her head injuries, Dover and Watkins injected methamphetamine. They then told Sawyer they would take her to the hospital, but threatened to hurt her and her children if she “said anything” or contacted police. They picked up Sawyer’s boyfriend and dropped him and Sawyer off at the emergency room at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Sawyer, who later said she was frightened by the attack, initially explained to emergency room doctors that she’d fallen while trimming branches and had hit her head on a fence. She had numerous skull fractures and had to have surgery.

But a few weeks later, Sawyer told a doctor in Alsea that her story about falling into a fence wasn’t true. She reportedly told a Benton County sheriff’s deputy that she came forward because she wanted to report the sexual assault and because she was scared that Watkins and Dover were still “running around.”

But by then, Watkins and Dover already were jailed, having been arrested after a car chase in Salem. On May 18, they were spotted by a Salem police officer as they were driving a stolen Pontiac — the same vehicle, investigators believe, they were driving when they reportedly kidnapped Sawyer.

The officer tried to pull over the vehicle, but Watkins, who was driving, continued onto Interstate 5, driving south. Another officer tried to put a spike strip across the freeway to stop the car. Before he finished, he saw the Pontiac approaching and tripped. The officer said the car swerved toward him and never slowed, missing him by inches.

The vehicle was finally stopped when an officer intentionally hit it with a patrol car.

Watkins had been in Marion County Jail since that arrest. Dover had been lodged in Linn County Jail since May 20 on an unrelated parole and probation violation.

At Dover’s arraignment Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Karen Stanley said Dover, a convicted sex offender, faced life in prison if arrested on new sex crime charges. She added that there is “grave concern” for Sawyer’s safety if Dover and Watkins are released.

Watkins and Dover are both scheduled for court appearances Thursday with court-appointed attorneys. They are both now in Benton County Jail. Watkins’ bail is $1,075,000; Dover’s is $1,675,000. ..Source.. Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times reporter

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