Pendleton cold case warms up with new DNA evidence
A cold case in Pendleton warms up after DNA testing links an assault that took place earlier this month to a murder last August.
Pendleton police say they have a substantial break in the unsolved murder of Amy Jane Brandhagen, who was found dead at a Pendleton motel just over a year ago.
They now have a person of interest in the case, but officers don't know where he is.
They say the man is almost like a ghost, who just about has the perfect life to commit crimes.
After a year of dead ends, Pendleton police officers finally have a promising lead in solving the murder of 19 year-old Amy Jane Brandhagen.
"This is huge" said Chief Stuart Roberts, Pendleton Police Department.
Brandhagen was killed last August at the Travelodge motel.
Investigators had no idea who committed the crime - until this weekend, while they were investigating a separate brutal assault from a week and a half ago at the river parkway.
Police say the two cases are extremely similar, and they happened at almost the exact same time of year.
"In both instances, the victims were very similar in a lot of respects. Not only were they slight in stature and female, but they attended the same church, they're long term Pendleton residents" said Roberts.
Police believe 23-year-old Danny Wu assaulted 53 year-old Karen Lange last week with a galvanized pipe at the river parkway.
During the investigation, officers found a man's DNA on the pipe used in the attack, and they checked to see if that matched some DNA found underneath Brandhagen's fingernail, and it was a match.
"We are in the process of trying to confirm whether or not that DNA profile is that of Danny Wu" said Roberts.
But chief Roberts says that will be a challenge, because Wu is a transient, with no real identification.
He says he doesn't even know if Danny Wu is his real name.
"He was leading the perfect life of a criminal if you will, from the standpoint that he didn't exist anywhere. No driver's license, no past residency, no associates. He was not in CODIS, nor was there a fingerprint profile in AFIS, which is the Automated Fingerprint Identification System." said Roberts.
Police are now warning residents to keep an eye out for Wu, as he considered extremely dangerous.
"The name really doesn't matter at this point. The important thing is that the image that we've put out there of the individual that we're interested in is truly a person that poses an imminent threat to society, and I'm gonna say society because he's very mobile at this point. He can show up anywhere, at any time, in any community" said Roberts.
Pendleton police officers have some personal property from Wu - his deodorant, toothbrush and nail clippers.
They are now checking to see if the DNA from those items matches the DNA found at both crime scenes.
That process is expected to take a couple weeks.
Lange is still at a hospital in Portland, she is in critical condition.