An Oregon Man Was An Early Suspect In A Double Murder. Four Decades Later He In Behind Bars In Connection.

Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office; MEGA

Steven Criss.

Nov. 5 2022, Published 4:35 p.m. ET

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An Oregon man was arrested this week in connection to the fatal shootings of two teenage boys more than four decades ago in Portland, according to police.

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Steven Criss, 65, of Aloha, Oregon, was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths of Donald Bartron, 16 at the time, and Peter Zito Jr., 18, while they were working on a car outside the Oak Hills Recreation Center in 1974.

Joseph Amir Wilson had been arrested for the shootings just hours after police discovered the bodies, according to KOIN. However, his charged were dismissed months later when police determined that he wasn't connected to the killings.

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Approximately two months later, Criss was looked at as a suspect after a .22-caliber gun was found inside the then-17-year-old's vehicle. Police initially arrested him for theft before doing a ballistic test that did not match, and he was released.


Criss was charged with a murder in 1976 while using the same handgun while he was in the U.S. Army. He admitted to killing his commanding officer, Sgt. Jacob "Kim" Brown, KOIN reported. Criss was sentenced to 35 years in prison but got out on parole after 12 years.

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Police began reviewing the cold case recently and sent ballistic evidence to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That agency's test turned up a match that was then confirmed by the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.

Police say Criss was arrested near his home.

KOIN reported that Criss had worked with Bartron at a diner at the time of the crime and had “reason to be upset with Donny and Pete," detectives said.


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