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Accused murderer of 13-year-old missing girl dies in prison

 

January 3, 2017

John Ackroyd

John Arthur Ackroyd, 67, died of apparent natural causes in his prison cell at about midnight on Dec. 30, 2016.

Ackroyd, whose address in court documents is on Airport Road in Sweet Home, was serving a life sentence in the Oraegon State Penitentiary for the 1978 murder of Kaye Turner in Camp Sherman.

In 2013, he was charged with murder related to the 1990 disappearance of 13-year-old Rachanda Pickle, his stepdaughter.

“Ensuring that Mr. Ackroyd was never released from prison has been a primary objective this office has pursued for a number of years,” said Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny. “We believe Mr. Ackroyd was a dangerous man who not only was convicted of murdering Kaye Turner, but also was responsible for the death of Rachanda Pickle.”

The case regarding Rachanda’s death began in 2013 but remained open with the last court date on Oct. 4, 2013, according to court records.

“About three years ago, in the case charging Mr. Ackroyd with the murder of Rachanda Pickle, a settlement conference was held that was presided over by Sr. Judge Charles Luukinen,” Marteeny said.

“Pursuant to those negotiations, and in accordance with the victim’s family’s wishes, the case was placed on hold in a manner that would ensure that Mr. Ackroyd would remain in prison until his death. That is what has happened and we are pleased with that outcome.”

Marteeny added that they were not able to speak publicly about those negotiations “because of ethical obligations that prevented us from speaking about a pending matter.”

Deputy District Attorney George Eder was the lead prosecutor in the case.

“We’ll be filing a motion to dismiss the pending case,” Eder said.

Events leading up to the criminal investigation of Rachanda’s disappearance began in the early morning hours of July 10, 1990 when John and Linda Ackroyd left their residence at the Oregon Department of Transportation shops at the Santiam Junction in east Linn County, then-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.

This case has been an ongoing investigation involving several detectives with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Mueller said at the time. 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.

Rachanda’s body has not been found.

 
 
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