Murderer charged in 22-year-old case

Following a 22-year investigation by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, John Arthur Ackroyd faces a charge of murder related to the 1990 disappearance of Rachanda Leah Pickle, his stepdaughter.

Ackroyd, 63, was indicted by grand jury on March 29 and arraigned in Linn County Circuit Court for murder on April 3.

In the early morning hours of July 10, 1990, John and Linda Ackroyd left their residence at the Oregon Department of Transportation shops at the Santiam Junction in east Linn County, Sheriff Tim Mueller said. Linda Ackroyd was dropped off at work by John Ackroyd, who then drove to his workstation in Bend.

Ackroyd left work early and returned to his residence at the Santiam Junction, Mueller said. He claimed his 13-year-old stepdaughter, Rachanda, was inside the residence when he arrived home.

Ackroyd stated he left the residence and returned later in the afternoon to find Rachanda missing. Believing there was a 24-hour wait time to report the girl missing, Ackroyd and his wife waited until the next morning to report her missing to law enforcement.

An extensive search was conducted in a large area surrounding the Oregon Department of Transportation facility at the Santiam Junction, Hoodoo Ski area and Big Lake areas. The main search operation lasted several weeks and included many search teams from neighboring counties. Searches of other areas have been made periodically since Rachanda’s disappearance.

Her body has never been located.

This case has been an ongoing investigation involving several detectives with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office during the 22 years since Rachanda’s disappearance, Mueller said. Due to advances in technology, electronic databases and unidentified and missing persons databases the case was submitted to the Linn County district attorney for consideration to prosecute Ackroyd for the girl’s murder.

On April 2, Ackroyd was arrested at the Oregon State Penitentiary, where he is serving a life sentence for the Dec. 24, 1978 murder of Kaye Turner in Camp Sherman, and transported to the Linn County Jail for the murder. He was returned to the Oregon State Penitentiary immediately after his arraignment.

His next court appearance is scheduled for May 8.