Cold case cleared: 1982 Portland killer died in ’09

Robert Lee Altom died of blunt force trauma on November 8, 1982

Cecil Turner was 24 when he allegedly killed Robert Lee Altom outsdie JB's Paradise Room. (PPB)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Cold case investigators with Portland Police Bureau recently cleared a 1982 homicide case after learning the suspect died in 2009.

Robert Altom, 30, died as a result of blunt force trauma on November 8, 1982. (PPB)
Robert Altom, 30, died as a result of blunt force trauma on November 8, 1982. (PPB)

The investigation began in the early morning hours of November 8, 1982 when the owner of JB’s Paradise Room on the 3500 block of N Vancouver Avenue closed his bar, walked outside and found a man with head trauma lying on the ground, police said.

The victim, 30-year-old Robert Lee Altom, later died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Witnesses initially told police Altom and an African American man got into a verbal altercation in the bar earlier that night. They were reportedly arguing about Altom’s sexuality, and the suspect is accused of using a gay slur.

Decades passed, and without any new leads, the case went cold.

Then, in late 2015, cold case detectives reinterviewed a witness in the case, police said. The information the witness provided helped detectives identify Cecil Corrie Turner, who was 24 at the time of the homicide, as a suspect in the case.

Detectives later learned Turner died in July 2009.

Based on their findings, PPB was able to clear the case.

“My family and I are thankful that the case has been solved,” Dawn Frizzell-Luna said in a statement. “We are thankful to the detectives that worked to solve the case and are grateful for what they have done for our family. My Uncle Robbie was an amazing man, who was loved, and is missed by his family and friends. It is a good feeling to know my Uncle Robbie’s name is no longer among boxes with the words cold case on them, but instead among ones that say solved.”

For more information on PPB’s Cold Case Homicide Unit, click here.

Robert Lee Altom, 30, was killed outside JB's Paradise Room on November 8, 1982. (PPB)
Robert Lee Altom, 30, was killed outside JB’s Paradise Room on November 8, 1982. (PPB)

 

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