Papers outline robbery plot against 79-year-old woman

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) The beating of a 79-year-old Eastern Oregon woman in January was the result of a plot to carry out a home invasion robbery of a woman who lived alone in an unincorporated community near the Washington border, court documents show.

In a conversation recorded by investigators, one suspect quoted another as saying the victim "had seen his face, so he had to do something about it," according to affidavits filed by the prosecution.

The documents describe the conversation between Jacob Lee White, 19, who agreed to wear a recording device, and Caleb Scott, 20, about the attack on Joyce Key, The East Oregonian reported Thursday.

According to the affidavits, Scott told White that he didn't harm Key and didn't see a third suspect, 20-year-old Matthew Raymond Hermann, hurt her.

Scott said, however, that Key was in a chair, wrapped in duct tape with a towel over her head, and Hermann was holding a rolling pin.

Key's son found his mother the morning of Jan. 30 in her kitchen at Umapine, northwest of Milton-Freewater. She was "secured to a chair with duct tape, and her wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape as well," the affidavits said.

In the attack the previous night, Key suffered multiple skull fractures, intracranial bleeding, a broken hip and multiple facial fractures, the Umatilla County sheriff's office said. She was initially hospitalized in a coma but survived.

Hermann, of College Place, Wash., is jailed facing accusations of attempted aggravated murder, assault, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and theft. Scott, of Waitsburg, Wash., is also jailed. He's charged with robbery, kidnapping, burglary and conspiracy.

Calls to public defenders for information about their cases and their pleas were not immediately returned.

White, of Walla Walla, Wash., hasn't been charged. He agreed to wear a hidden microphone and surveillance wristwatch so police could record the conversation with Scott. Investigators said White drove the two others to the home but didn't go inside.

Investigators said they tracked Hermann through DNA on a cardboard roll that likely held the duct tape, and he was questioned in Oklahoma, where he had been jailed on a drug charge. That led them to White and Scott.

According to the affidavits, when Scott was questioned by investigators, he told them that "Hermann said he had the whole thing planned out and he claimed no one would get hurt."


Information from: East Oregonian