Aron Christensen and his dog were on a camping trip near Walupt Lake when investigators say they were shot and killed.
PORTLAND, Oregon — Two months after a Portland man and his dog were killed in the woods of Lewis County, Wash. investigators have ruled his death a homicide.
Aron Christensen, 49, died August 20 while hiking on the 101 Trail near Walupt Lake. Christensen and several friends had been camping in the area when he and his dog left on a hike. He told friends he’d be back in time for dinner, but never returned.
“As the day went on I would just keep looking at my phone and thinking he should be showing up at some point,” said Christensen’s friend Ezra Meredith, who was also on the camping trip.
Later, Lewis County Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies of Christensen and his dog on the trail.
“I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach,” said Meredith. “It’s hard to describe, he was one of my best friends, it’s been quite a struggle for all of us.”
Meredith said the two months since Christensen’s death were sad and frustrating, filled with rumors and little or no information from investigators.
“We feel like it’s been a long time,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Lewis County Coroner’s Office revealed that Christensen died from a gunshot wound to the chest, ruling his death a homicide. The next day, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office identified two suspects in the case: 20-year-old Ethan Asbach and a 17-year-old girl, both from Thurston County. Investigators referred the suspects to prosecutors for charges of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree animal cruelty.
Deputies also shared that on August 21, a family member of Asbach’s had contacted them. They told investigators that Asbach and the girl had been hiking in the area they day Christensen was killed. They said that out of fear, Asbach had fired a gun at what he thought was a wild animal. He later found Christensen and his dog, both dead, according to the source.
“We’re concerned that this is being attempted to be swept under the rug,” said Meredith. “We want to see justice for our friend Aron Christenson.”
“I know there are a lot of friends and family of Mr. Christensen who are eager for answers involving his death,” Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza wrote in a statement. “There still continues to be unanswered questions in this case our investigators are diligently trying to address, but yesterday’s notice of cause and manner of death has brought us forward to this point of initially referring the charges.”
Lewis County Sheriff’s officials said the two suspects had not been arrested Thursday, and the agency did not consider them a flight risk. The prosecutor’s office will now look at evidence in the case. No charges have been filed.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at 360-748-9286, or Lewis County Communications at 360-740-1105.