Uncle, nephew arrested in murder-for-hire scheme in connection to feud over Oregon family estate

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Source: MEGA; Deschutes County jail

Oct. 12 2021, Published 8:35 p.m. ET

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Two Oregon family members are under arrest and accused of conspiring to kill another relative and his fiancée 14 months ago in a murder-for-hire scheme, prosecutors said.

On Aug. 15, 2020, a friend found Ray Atkinson Jr., 34, and his 29-year-old fiancée, Natasha “Tasha” Newby, dead from blunt force trauma in the basement of a Bend home that once belonged to Atkinson Jr.’s late father, Ray Atkinson Sr.

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According to legal records, the elder Atkinson died in 2019 and his two sons, Atkinson Jr. and Kenneth Wayne “Ken” Atkinson, had battled in court over their father’s $400,000 estate.

Prosecutors now believe Ken Atkinson, 57, paid his nephew, Nathan Shane Detroit II, 31, to kill the couple in a murder-for-hire scheme, and police arrested the pair on Oct. 1, The Bend Bulletin reported.

"Ken was the mastermind of these murders, and he was assisted by Nathan, his nephew,” Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said, according to KTVZ.

Officials said that while they suspected Atkinson of the crimes, they only arrested him and his nephew over a year following the murders because they recently received new evidence that points to Detroit’s involvement in the alleged plot.

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"We saw evidence, quickly, that there was more than one killer involved. If we moved quickly to arrest our main suspect, we would have never gotten the evidence of Nathan Shane Detroit," Hummel explained.

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Hummel would not reveal what the evidence is, but he said a new team of prosecutors were able to spot it. “You look at the same evidence every day, sometimes you miss something,” Hummel explained. “It's really important, because we saw another key evidence in that new look. It was that new piece we saw in that new look that cracked it.”

Atkinson, a former prison guard, and Detroit were booked into the Deschutes County jail on four counts each of first-degree murder, and two-counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. They are being held without bond.

“Just knowing that they're behind bars, and there's no bail, is a huge relief off of our backs,” said Newby’s sister, Racheil Hoffman.

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