Docs: Accused Old Town killer used meth, confessed to cops

Crime

Michael VanDomelen faces 1st-degree murder.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The accused killer of a man and a woman in Portland’s Old Town on Sunday had used methamphetamine just hours prior and confessed to the killings, according to court documents.

Michael S. VanDomelen was charged with two counts of first-degree murder after appearing before a judge Monday after 2 people were shot to death in a weekend double homicide.

The names of the victims have not been released.

Authorities said Portland Police officers received a call around 6:30 a.m. reporting gunshots at an apartment located at 310 NW 6th Avenue. The 911 caller noted the shots were coming from the third floor of the apartment building and identified the shooter as a resident named “Mike.”

Officers arrived at the scene and found VanDomelen on the third floor. The apartment door on a different unit was open and officers found the man and woman laying on the floor with apparent gunshot wounds. There were multiple shell casings outside the apartment, the document said.

As he was being taken into custody, VanDomelen told officers there was a gun in his pocket. A 9 mm handgun and two loaded 9 mm magazines were found.

Court documents indicate Officer Petty told Det. Pontius that, while sitting in the patrol car, VanDomelen confessed to shooting two people.

A resident witness said he heard gunshots and left his room. Documents said the witness saw the 2 victims inside the nearby apartment and both had been. He asked the man who shot him, but the man was not responsive.

Then he said he saw VanDomelen in the hall and asked if 911 had been called. VanDomelen said said no. When asked by the witness if he knew who had done it, VanDomelen said “I did,” according to court records.

VanDomelen allegedly told the witness he wanted to put the male victim out of his misery and the witness began to walk away when he heard another shot, according to authorities.

Surveillance video from the apartment hallway showed VanDomelen point a gun into the victims’ apartment, the document said. Then he left before returning when the witness was outside the apartment. Van Domelen pointed the gun again into the apartment.

According to officials, VanDomelen was interviewed by a PPB detective and said he was friends with the male victim and admitted to shooting “him,” according to the court documents. He also allegedly noted there was a woman in the room. 

Van Domelen claimed he used meth multiple times in the hours before the shooting and said he could hear voices telling him to shoot people, documents indicated.

VanDomelen confirmed he had his gun when he first arrived at the apartment, officials said.

‘Meth is cheaper, more potent’

Last week, Blanchet House Executive Director Scott Kerman said there is another problem now.

“We’re seeing greater hostility that may be driven by mental illness and addiction,” Kerman said at that time. “Very worrisome to me today is a new story in The Atlantic magazine that there seems to be a new type of meth on the streets that may be escalating and provoking mental health conditions.”

While he couldn’t speak about this case specifically, Dr. Andrew Mendenhall with Central City Concern spoke about the rise of meth in the community in recent times.

“The methamphetamine over the last couple of years is cheaper, more potent, and more readily accessible than ever before, so we’re seeing profoundly terrible impacts of that dopamine surge resulting in people becoming psychotic for long periods of time,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said “it’s hard to say” if that new meth mentioned in The Atlantic is in Portland. “It seems probable,” he said, “but I don’t have confirmation of that.”

What they are seeing is meth cut with other drugs. “People think they’re taking meth but in reality they’re not,” he said.

Mendenall said that is “extremely worrisome” because there is already a mental health crisis.

“I can only imagine that if there’s a new meth on the market that is driving mental health crisis I think we have to be prepared that things could get worse before they get better,” he said.

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