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The Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club House

The Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club House

There is plenty of hollywood sizzle to the story, but don’t hold your breath.  It’s not a new Kurt Sutter television drama on motorcycle outlaws and biker “authenticity.”

It’s been a week where the Oregon Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club (GJMC) can’t avoid the news.  The GJMC, who have sometimes had a violent history in the Northwest, have managed to limit their appearances in the crime scene so reports linking the club or members of the club to serious crimes is unusual.

The reports read like a melodramatic whodunit detective novel… There was a fractured skull, a broken rib, a broken leg and a removed nipple. Sounds like an overtly violent scene from Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy (SAMCRO) TV series, but according to law enforcement reports, Robert “Bagger Bobby” Huggins, 56, was an ousted Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club member who also had nails driven through his boots, slash wounds to his back and face and many blows to his face.  His lifeless body was found shirtless and bloody in a Clark County field on July 1, 2015 by timber loggers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.36.01 PMThese news reports are just noise without context.  And, this week Detective Jim Lawrence provided that context during a 3-day bail hearing to Multnomah County Circuit Judge Gregory Silver stating that witnesses informed him that Huggins had been banished from the motorcycle club in 2014, after fellow members determined he was stealing money from the club to support his heroin habit.  The following year, Huggins burglarized the Woodburn home of the Gypsy Jokers club president** and tied the president’s girlfriend to a chair at gunpoint — enraging the president and other members enough to torture and kill him.  There are cellphone records linking some defendants to the crime scenes, there is neighborhood surveillance camera footage, Huggins blood was found in a Suburban used to transport the body and various people told police about certain elements of the story leading up to the killing or surrounding the killing.

(L to R): Fisher, Dencklau, Thompson, Pribbernow

(L to R): Fisher, Dencklau, Thompson, Pribbernow

At the end of the day a grand jury indicted:

  • Mark Leroy Dencklau**, 56, Earl Devearl Fisher Jr., 46, and Tiler Evan Pribbernow, 34, each on two counts of murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit kidnapping and solicitation to commit kidnapping. The three men remain in custody and were arraigned in a Multnomah County Circuit Court.
  • Melachi Watkins, 32, on a murder count, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Watkins was already in a Washington state prison on unrelated charges.
  • Ronald Charles Thompson, 51, on two counts of hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. He was released on bail, police said.
  • Kendra Castle, 43, on a hindering prosecution count. She was released on bail.

It has been reported that Watkins, Thompson and Castle will be arraigned at a later date.

Details on the investigation had been limited because of the ongoing investigation, but Detective Jim Lawrence made the above details of the case public this week during a 3-day hearing which was to determine whether three of four men charged with Huggins’ murder should be allowed to be released from jail pending trial, set for 2017. Defendants Mark Leroy Dencklau; Earl Devearl Fisher; and Tiler Evan Pribbernow, have all been held in jail with no possibility of posting bail since they were charged in April.  In Oregon, when a defendant is charged with murder, aggravated murder or treason, release is denied when “the proof is evident or the presumption strong that the person is guilty.”

At the conclusion of the 3-day hearing, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Gregory Silver refused to grant bail to the three men.  Courtesy of the Oregonian the video is HERE.

Additional background and information courtesy of the Mercury Tribune:

  • Mr. Dencklau** is, or was, the president of the Portland GJMC, according to this 2007 press release from a biker-friendly lawyer who successfully sued the City of Portland on behalf of the GJMC after a failed 2004 police raid at the club’s NE MLK headquarters. According to court records, Mr. Dencklau has one felony conviction, for possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.
  • Mr. Fisher has an extensive rap sheet, with five felony and four misdemeanor convictions, and seven parole violations. His most recent non-driving bust was in 2009 when he was convicted on two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
  • Mr. Pribbernow is an Iraq War veteran and a methamphetamine addict. He was already in jail when the initial sweep happened, after a March arrest on meth possession and gun charges. He has at least eight prior felony and four misdemeanor convictions. Mr. Pribbernow’s been in the news before—most recently for a 2015 car chase that started in Oregon and ended in Vancouver, WA. Police discovered stolen license plates in his car, and booked him for driving under the influence of drugs, reckless endangerment, and eluding police.  He was also featured in a 2007 Willamette Week story for having shot a man, Kent Kotsovos, in Northeast Portland. He was arrested for attempted murder in 2005, but a grand jury said it was self-defense.
I’m not affiliated with any club.  I do not speak for the GJMC and I would never presume to speak for that club or any club.

As a motorcycle enthusiast I am less than thrilled to be highlighting this type of activity.  The mutilation and termination of an individual with extreme prejudice — a gangland style killing — will cause many to cast a colder eye on all bikers including the law-abiding, charitable brotherhood of family men who just like to ride.

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ambulance with lightsI know there are ongoing activities to promote motorcycle safety in Oregon.

Yet, my observations riding around the Portland metro area is that we just don’t see as much in the way of highly visible – “in your face” – awareness programs this year.  Maybe I’ve missed the billboards while concentrating on and trying to navigate the highway ruts/grooves from all the road construction?

I’ll tell you what I have noticed…   Several motorcycle crash reports from Oregon State Police and articles in the Oregonian.  It’s sad to say, but when I see a motorcycle accident in the paper, that’s increasing awareness!  Some might even debate that reading about motorcycle accidents provides a better deterrent than a motorcycle awareness campaign could accomplish.

What do you think?

When there is an accident, the motorcycle community wants to know what happened.  Why and who caused it?  But, more often than not we’re left speculating about what led up to the accident, or second guessing the police report.  Follow up seldom occurs and accurate conclusions are challenging to get.  I truly dislike blogging about these disheartening events, but over the last 4-weeks we’ve seen a spike in accidents.  All motorcyclists were wearing helmets and below is a brief summary:

  1. June 17 –  John Edward Tomer was eastbound on Highway 26 near milepost 46. For an unknown reason, the motorcycle traveled across the westbound lane where a witness in another vehicle slowed to avoid it. The motorcycle continued off the highway into a ditch and hit a tree bordering the north side.  Mr. Tomer was pronounced deceased at the scene.
  2. June 21 – Terry Brateng stopped his motorcycle with two other motorcycles on the right southbound shoulder of I-5 near milepost 194 underneath an overpass next to a concrete shoulder barrier to shelter from a passing heavy rain shower.  After getting off his motorcycle, Brateng was walking around the front of the motorcycle when he was struck by an automobile driven by Kaitlyn Inman which failed to drive within a lane.  Brateng was seriously injured and remains in Sacred Heart Medical Center.
  3. June 23 –  Stephen Anthony Williams was on Highway 37 about 8-miles southeast of Highway 97 and collided into the passenger side of a dodge van turning into a private driveway.  He was air lifted to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend where he died of injuries.  The van’s driver, Glen Harvey Jr was arrested for criminally negligent homicide and DUII.
  4. June 24 – On Highway 19 west of Spray, Randall Upshaw was found by a passing motorist in the highway along with a dead deer.  Upshaw was deceased and the preliminary investigation indicated a collision between the motorcycle and the deer.
  5. July 3 – Robert Irving Floding died from injuries suffered during a crash on June 10th.  This was the 19th traffic fatality in Portland in 2013
  6. July 5 – An adult male crashed his motorcycle in the 1400 block of SE 10th Avenue in Portland and was pronounced deceased at the scene.  A medical condition was being reviewed.  No names were released.
  7. July 9 – A Roseburg couple, Kenneth and Linda Minshew were critically injured on Highway 138E two miles west of Tokette when the motorcycle traveled off the highway and struck a tree.
  8. July 11 – A fatal motorcycle crash on SE Milwaukee Avenue just south of McLoughlin Blvd.  Damian Gerold Waytt was traveling at high rate of speed on a Kawasaki ZX6 and failed to negotiate a partial right turn and went off the road.  Video HERE.  This was the 23rd traffic fatality in Portland in 2013.
  9. July 11 – Jacob J. Godfrey was found lying in berry bushes several hours after an overnight motorcycle crash off Highway 194 (Monmouth Highway) and 3-miles east of Highway 223.  The Yamaha motorcycle traveled off the highway and when Mr. Godfrey didn’t come to work the next morning friends went looking and spotted the mark on a road side tree, stopped and heard him call out for help.  He was reported in fair condition.
  10. July 16 – A motorcycle and dump truck were involved in an accident on Highway 229 at milepost 21 near Siletz. For an unconfirmed reason the motorcycle operated by John Hausmann and with passenger/wife Angela Hausmann crossed the center line and collided with the truck.  Their injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.
  11. UPDATED:  July 19 — A reckless motorcycle was traveling eastbound on Highway 30 in excess of 100 mph and tried to eluded OSP.  The trooper tried to stop the motorcycle rider, but he failed to yield to the trooper’s emergency lights and siren, then continued on eastbound.  Iosif Savitskiy eventually crashed into a yard in North Portland and was arrested.  Video HERE.  Another idiot giving motorcycle riders a bad name…

My condolences and sympathies go out to the families and friends of these riders.

There are many reasons for the spike in motorcycle accidents and clearly we can’t shove all the blame onto distracted automobile drivers.

Given the high number of riders who will be out this weekend packing the roads for Run21 and the National BMW rally, I wanted to remind riders… please just pay attention and ride safe.

Photo courtesy of lifemoresimply.blogspot.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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abate_toy_runI missed this over the weekend, but wanted to provide a shout out after the fact.  Details are available in a great article from Tom Hallman Jr., of The Oregonian on the Musician’s Toy Run Benefit Concert which was held this past Saturday. 

The event was put on by ABATE of Oregon.  It’s nice to see/read a positive news article about bikers.  Both Art West (Brothers Speed MC) and Mike Friend (ABATE Chaplain) provided inspiring quotes along with perspectives on the type of help ABATE has been behind over the years with the Shriners Hospital.

Note that on December 6th the Toy Run for the Portland Shriners Hospital will occur. The public is welcome. Riders will start gathering about 10 a.m. at the TriMet parking lot at 4012 S.E. 17th Ave. Raffle tickets ($10) for a chance to win a Harley-Davidson will be sold there. The drawing will be at noon, and then a ride to deliver toys to the Portland Shriners Hospital for Children will begin about 12:30 p.m.  More information and updates will be posted on the event calendar HERE.

The ABATE/Shriners Toy Run has been in existence since December 1980.  ABATE is a not-for-profit motorcycle organization devoted to raising member and public awareness about motorcycle issues and safety through education and community involvement.

It’s a great example of motorcycle riders doing a lot of good in/for the community!

Poster courtesy of ABATE web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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black bike hearstRecently my post on motorcycle fatalities received a comment from the Black Velvet Hearse Company.  It’s the brainchild of motorcycle enthusiasts who wanted to give other riders the opportunity to enjoy their last ride the way they would want to. The Black Velvet Hearse is a desire to provide a unique, memorable, and remarkable service to the biker community.  

The “Til Death Do We Ride” slogan caught my attention and the service is provided for motorcycle riders by motorcycle riders.  They have an interesting web site and it’s a unique product that I wanted to pass along.  

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custer gravesI like spirited debate and don’t shy away from conflict and this is a bit longer than many of my posts so, I apologize up front for those of you looking for instant gratification.

One topic where the “elephant” in the room needs to be introduced and brought out into the light of day is the issue of motorcycle fatalities.

I dislike being morbid, but there are motorcycle trends that we should stop and take notice of:

  • Motorcycles represent 2.5% of all registered vehicles but 11.3% of traffic deaths.Motorcyclists ages 50 and older who die in wrecks has grown from 14% to 24% since 1997.
  • Motorcycle ownership among riders aged 40 and over has increased dramatically, from 15.1% in 1980 to 43.7% in 1998.45% of motorcycle drivers killed in traffic crashes were not wearing helmets.
  • Engine displacement of motorcycles involved in fatal crashes have increased, from ave. engine size of 769cc in 1990 to 959cc in 2001.In 2005, the motorcycle fatality rate was 73 per 100K registered motorcycles compared with 13.7 per 100K passenger vehicles.
  • Speeding are bigger factors in fatal crashes of Supersport and Sport bikes compared with other classes of motorcycles – 4X higher.

This data connects with the Harley buying demographic and rider assumptions of the boomer generation. Houston we have a problem! From celeb wrecks to average Joes getting older the incidents have jumped, even if little noticed in the media especially here in Oregon. For the last 3+ years all the articles written about motorcycle accidents include some type of statement to the effect of “financially secure baby boomers looking for adventure” are the main cause of serious accidents resulting from inexperienced riders combined with more powerful motorcycles. Blah, blah, blah…

This type of reporting is boring and somewhat irresponsible! There is little to connect the two unless you compare Sport Bikes which attract the below 30 something demographic. And if older people have decreased motor skills then why aren’t there increases in automobiles accidents due to increasing horse power? Yet many media outlets claim riders are killing themselves due to rookie inexperience. Yet the accidents continue

The latest internet searches provided the following:

  • On Friday, October 26th, there was a fatal crash on Oregon 217. It was the middle of the day, clear skies, dry road and in the mid-60’s (which in itself is unusual for a Northwest winter!) when Craig E. Lewis (Camas, WA), 61, motorcyclist rear-ended a car in the south bound lane. The Tigard police (Jim Wolf , spokesperson) stated that the motorcyclist was making a lane change and didn’t notice that traffic had stopped.
  • Then early October an organized “ride” to a biker funeral from Medford to Portland turned deadly when three people were injured North of Salem in a motorcycle crash. The large group of motorcyclists were northbound on Interstate 5 as part of an organized ride. Near milepost 265 northbound, 37-year old Patrick H. Lucas of Molalla, was on the northbound shoulder on his motorcycle, waiting to join the ride. According to witnesses, the group slowed down to allow Lucas to fall in the back of the pack, but he instead attempted to merge into the middle of the group. He hit 69-year old Jerry W. Worthington of Butte Falls, Montana and they both went down. A third motorcycle ridden by 60-year old John H. Jensen of Wilderville, Oregon collided with the first two and a fourth motorcycle driven by 56-year old Patrick A Treece of Coos Bay, ran over the wreckage.
  • And back in September, a lady died and the passenger was injured on Oregon 219 south of Newberg. Carolyn Caylor, 51, of Okanogan, Wash., was killed and Shel Rae Claddagh, 38, of Canby was injured. The two were found by Caylor’s husband and stepson, who were on other motorcycles in the three-cycle tour, about six miles north of Newberg. The cycles were about a quarter-mile apart and the relatives went back to look for the women when their three-wheel 1994 Honda Goldwing disappeared. They were found down a 40-foot embankment after the motorcycle missed a sharp left curve.

I feel very sorry for all these families. I truly do. I don’t know the situation for sure, but nationally the accident data tells a story that judgement errors are making it more and more deadly to be a motorcyclist. This is alarming to me as I like the open road and it might be something our posse will want to get involved or address?

The Oregonian recently reported that the number of registered motorcycles rose 61 percent from 1995 to 2005, from 3.8 million to 6.1 million. The number increased 83 percent in Oregon during the same period, from 59,468 to 108,958.

This is a useless statistic. More bikes on the roads, more accidents – duh! Stats are a tricky thing. To understand the fatalities there would need to be collision reconstruction to identify crash causation (cause analysis) and recognition experts to help identify if alcohol and/or drug impaired the driver etc., for every motorcycle accident. Things like speed, road conditions, urban vs. rural setting etc. are needed to assess trends. And if the stats are higher for those riding high-performance sport bikes vs. cruisers. The reports don’t do this, rather they measure the broad fatality rates, as measured by deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles and per million vehicle miles traveled. This number has steadily climbed while at the same time the overall motor vehicle fatality rate has fallen. Troy Costales, administrator of ODOT’S Traffic Safety Division, said there are about three motorcycle fatalities in rural Oregon for every one in an urban setting. The No. 1 cause, he said, was excessive speed going into corners.

It’s not just Oregon. In Montana more motorcycles are on the roads too. There are now about 80,000 bikes, which is compared to about 50,000 in 2005. This year in Montana 34 people have died in motorcycle crashes which compares to 27 last year. If you look outside the region in Iowa the upturn in Deer movements accounted for 10 deaths in Iowa – 9 of the 10 were not wearing helmets. And in South Carolina they are on a pace to exceed the 106 fatalities of last year. Even Michele Obama (wife of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) campaign van collided with a motorcycle on a two-lane country road in central Iowa on October 9th. Fortunately it only sent the motorcyclist to the hospital.

One notable exception is in Washington State. Motorcycle fatality collisions have decreased as a result of troopers focused attention on motorcyclists who were driving under the influence, speeding and driving negligently. As of August 31, there were 43 deaths resulting from collisions involving motorcyclists. For the same time period last year, there were 61 deaths. From April 2007 to July 2007 (peak riding in the NW), Washington troopers doubled the amount of arrests of motorcyclists who were driving under and influence and increased the amount of citations issued to those riders who exceed the posted speed limit by two-thirds.

There is no easy explanation why the motorcycle death toll continues to increase, but ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments) the motorcycle advocacy group believes better training for bikers and educating other motorists will decrease motorcycle deaths. I have to agree. I’m not trying to mandate helmut laws so, save your clicks. You do what you think as I’ve only presented some stats.

Just be very careful out there!

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