‘Baker County Exposed’ Facebook Page Launched

By Terri Harber March 01, 2013 09:02 am

By Terri Harber

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

There’s a Facebook page highlighting the recent exploits of various crime suspects around Baker County.

Baker County Exposed launched in mid-January. The page administrator used pictures posted on a variety of websites to create a showcase of people accused of mostly sex-related crimes.

Many people singled out were considered by the Baker County Sheriff’s Department as “Most Wanted.” 

There were a handful of other incidents posted as well, but the material featured has been added sporadically.

Some of the posts generated dozens of comments. 

Commenters frequently argue about the suspects and hurl insults at one another. Some comments are peppered with profanities. A significant number ridicule the suspect and, often, do the same to commenters with a different viewpoint. 

And a few things stated might even be libelous, if untrue. 

The administrator even picked on one of the commenters, who, like the suspect featured, was named by the Baker County Sheriff’s Department as “Most Wanted.” 

The person wrote that the featured suspect “isn’t a bad guy. He just has probs (problems) dealing. He helped me out a lot when I needed a shoulder.”

The page administrator replied: “LOL they have you listed on the ‘most wanted section’ too. ...Watch out for this little firecracker folks.”

Another person weighed in: “You shouldn’t threaten to ‘expose’ people who comment on your pictures. I liked this page at first, I do not anymore.”

More than 1,000 Facebook members have clicked on the “like” button for the page since it was created.

“I think it’s good to know who in Baker City is a sex offender,” writes Kristy Rice, a commenter the Baker City Herald contacted through Facebook. 

“I have (two) young daughters and it’s nice to know where and when sex offenders are released since I know they don’t always register,” Rice said.

Some of the people submitting written comments on recent posts asked whether the administrator is being derelict because the information and mugshots are selective.

“This is totally out of hand,” one person stated. “The idea of this page is great but let’s see all of the inmates listed. Or is it just the current cases that you are trying to mess up?”

Local law enforcement officials aren’t especially concerned about the site affecting their work, however.

Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner compares the written online remarks to “coffeehouse chats.”

Although perhaps some had too much coffee, given the intensity.

“You might hear the same conversations at McDonald’s or The Little Pig,” he says. “It’s just how they’re communicating — online — that’s different.”

Baker County Sheriff Mitch Southwick also doesn’t seem too worried about the site’s style and content.

“I don’t think it’s hurting any cases,” he says. “I didn’t see anything that could hurt or help a case.”

Both Lohner and Southwick point out that the information posted already is in the public realm, available to anyone.

Photographs of suspects are either from Baker County Parole and Probation or pulled from websites of other law enforcement agencies that have arrested the suspect previously. 

Local media routinely publish arrests as well as some incident information.

The Baker County Jail doesn’t post mugshots online. People must email requests for any of these pictures. Personnel at the jail handle these requests only as time allows.

District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff echoed what the police officials said about the content of the page.

“In terms of cases I don’t see it as an issue,” he says. “If a potential juror looks at it ... well, it has about the same effect as a newspaper.”

Southwick and Shirtcliff have a warning for suspects who want their arrest information removed from this and other online locations: It might be an extortion attempt if someone asks for money to remove a mugshot or other arrest details.

A character on TV’s “Hawaii Five-O” or “Law & Order” would use a better known term, such as blackmail or shakedown. 

The suspect should contact law enforcement because the person showcasing the information is attempting to commit a crime, Southwick and Shirtcliff emphasized.

The administrator on Baker County Exposed doesn’t identify himself or herself but does list an email address for people to request their picture be removed.

However, if  “you are a convicted kiddy-diddler ... you have earned yourself a permanent spot,” the site administrator also wrote. 

Emails were sent to Baker County Exposed by the Herald, but no one responded.

Nothing has been posted by the page administrator since early February. A heated line of comments by people who know the suspect and others involved in the case was followed with the advisory that information could be removed on request. 

The next — and most recent — feature is about a crime that happened years ago. 

An online newspaper clipping from the Eugene Register-Guard is posted about a homicide that occurred during the mid-1990s in eastern Baker County. 

It includes a plea for information and promises a reward if that information leads to the identification of the “killer.”

The body of Kendra Dee Maurmann, 42, was found in a shallow grave along Eagle Creek, north of New Bridge, in April 1995. She was shot in the head and her body appeared to have been buried there months earlier, according to previous reports.

Maurmann had lived with relatives in Halfway for a portion of the previous year.

The page administrator also states that crime fighting organizations might be offering a reward for information about the case. 

Southwick doesn’t know of any rewards being offered in connection to the Maurmann case. 

The Baker County Sheriff’s Department considers the Maurmann homicide a cold case, however. Anyone with information that might help deputies possibly solve this homicide is urged to telephone the department at 541-523-6415. 

There are other “Exposed” pages featuring arrest information for selected communities in Oregon: Linn, Benton, Deschutes and Tillamook counties were easy to find.

Only Linn and Benton continue to feature updated information. The Benton page refers complaints to a snarky Google form called the “Interactive Butthurt Report v. 2.0.”

Community pages on Facebook, such as most of these pages, often contain scanty or no information about contacting the person or people who control it.

Some of these pages allow posts from anyone to be viewed publicly while others, such as Baker County Exposed, only allow comments on posts created by the administrator to be seen by anyone visiting the page.

The Deschutes page has a link to the online inmate roster at the county jail. A website called bendmugshots.com contains suspects’ photos and arrest information.

Many other communities have similar websites devoted to arrests and mugshots, including La Grande. 

These websites will remove mugshots by request, without charging a fee, for people whose charges were dismissed or found not guilty. Family members also can ask for the information about  their deceased loved ones be removed. 

Many of these site administrators delete images simply by request, no matter the status of a case, also for free.

Procedures for removal are noted on these websites.