Portland Cold Case: Robert & Frieda Wheatley


August 29th, 1988. Portland, Oregon. Police and family of Robert (61) and Frieda Wheatley (69), had just entered the elderly couples residence after days of no contact at the 2600 block of North Holman. Knocks at the door and phone calls went unanswered. Their car was not in the driveway. Neighbors had not seen the couple either. After waiting a few days, one of their children alerted authorities and requested a wellness check. As they entered the home, immediately they knew something was wrong.

There was no sign of forced entry but the house had been ransacked. Drawers were emptied and items were missing from the home. Still no sign of the couple. After what police thought was a thorough search of the house, the daughter then directed law enforcement to the basement. There a horrific scene would be discovered. The bodies of the missing couple would be found. It would later be determined that both individuals had been strangled to death. It is believed that the couple was murdered on August 27th, two days earlier.

Among the missing items was a collection of debit and credit cards, a television set, jewelry, and a 1979 Buick Regal. After tracking the missing cards, it was shown that they were used throughout the Portland area over the past few days. Once the crime was discovered, activity on the cards soon stopped. Also once reports of the murder began to surface, the Buick would turn up in a nearby shopping center.

A “For Sale By Owners” sign was hanging on the couples property. Detectives theorized the motive was robbery and by approaching the couple as prospective buyers would allow easy access to the home as well as putting the couples guard down. This would explain why there was no sign of forced entry. Once inside the home one or more suspects subdued and murdered the Wheatley couple, placing them in the basement and taking any valuables from the home.

No new leads have surfaced in years. Detectives are still trying to track down new leads and feel like someone in the community knows something but still has yet to come forward. Over the years detectives have revisited the case multiple times. In an effort to solve the case they have resubmitted items found in the home to forensic labs, hoping that new technology would be able to lift a print or identify a profile. 

A person of interest was identified by detectives but they were unable to obtain enough evidence to move forward in the investigation. A reward is still being offered for any information that would result in the arrest of those responsible for this heinous crime. If you have any potential information on the deaths of Robert and Frieda Wheatley, please share the information with Oregon investigators.