Neighbors React to Eugene Man’s Death

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EUGENE, Ore. — After police confirmed George Wasson was the victim of Wednesday’s murder and house fire in Eugene, neighbors are reacting.

Police are trying to find the possible connection between him and the suspect Ricardo Chaney. Police have confirmed Wasson was the person found dead inside his home.

Though Ricardo Chaney also lived in the neighborhood, no one we talked to on Elk Avenue had ever seen him.

Neighbors we spoke with say Wasson was a nice and friendly man and had lived in this home for several decades.

“Very, very nice guy. Very quiet and calm…always smiling,” said longtime neighbor Caroline Boekelheide

Boekelheide says she lived on Elk Avenue for more than 50 years, and Wasson lived across the street from her. She says she and her husband actually went to Wasson’s University of Oregon grad school thesis defense.

“The title was, ‘What it’s like to grow up an Indian in the United States,” Boekelheide said.

Wasson was an elder of the Coquille Indian Tribe and many neighbors said he was very proud of his heritage. She says he was always working with his hands.

“He was a very handy many. He had a garden…He liked to use his grandmother’s recipes. He made wonderful jam and sauces for meat and stuff like that,” Boekelheide said.

Boekelheide says though Wasson was quiet. He was a great neighbor.

“Very helpful to the neighbors. He had a, the person next to us across the street from George immediately, was ill, and she would frequently fall. And George, she’d always call, and he’d help her up,” Boekelheide said.

She was shocked to hear her longtime neighbor has been murdered.

The person police say shot Wasson was 32-year-old Ricardo Chaney. We’ve learned that his childhood home was just around the corner from Wasson’s house.

Police have not told us what the connection is between the Wasson family and Chaney, but one person told us that Chaney’s father, who died in 1998, was also a professor of anthropology at the UO, the same department Wasson worked in.

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