PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators looking into the 2014 disappearance of a Yamhill County man now consider the case to be a homicide, and documents reveal a number of theories why.
Christopher “Topher” Dale Bernards went missing near Cottage Grove in September 2014. Bernards’ body has not been found.
But documents obtained by KOIN 6 News reveal he may have been killed over a bad drug deal, or due to forgery and fraud, that Bernards was killed by the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Gang, that he was shot in the face by the Russian Mafia and buried in Polk County.
It is unclear why the sheriff’s office is investigating the case now. Lane County sheriff’s Sgt. Carrie Carver declined to comment Wednesday. The tips were discovered through a search warrant affidavit filed in Lane County Circuit Court.
According to the affidavit, Bernards left Yamhill County on Sept. 4, 2014, and drove to the Tacoma area. Days later, officials believe he drove back near Cottage Grove, where his car was found on Sept. 8, 2014.
Below are the summary points from the affadavit obtained by KOIN 6 News about why the case is now considered a homicide:
Shortly after Bernards was reported as a missing person, people from the Yamhill County area started coming forward and reporting that they believed Bernards was killed by a male who also lived in Yamhill County. One reported that he had his throat cut and it was due to a drug deal “gone bad.”
Another reported that Bernards was killed due to a forgery and fraud ring that was being run in Yamhill County and Bernards was being careless and had a number of bad checks bounce and traced back to him.
More reports came in of the death of Bernards and the possible dumping of his body near a train trestle and later moved to Gopher Valley Road or Beaver Creek Road in Yamhill County. Months later it was reported to the Yamhill County Sheriffs Office by an informant that said he was present when Bernards was murdered by people associated with the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Gang.
Another report brought to the Yamhill County Sheriffs Office attention was that Bernards had been picked up by members of the Russian Mafia and had been taken to a remote area and shot in the face before being buried on a rural property in Polk County.
To this day, no one related to or friends with Christopher “Topher” Dale Bernards has heard from him or seen him since he was last seen on 09/08/2014 in Lane County. His vehicle was not retrieved from Taylor’s Towing and no more activity was noted on any credit card or bank account assigned to Bernards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.