Oregon Governor Grants Clemency to Man Who Executed Teen Girl in 1994

AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File

Oregon’s left-wing Sen. Ron Wyden called Gov. Kate Brown’s release of convicted murderer Kyle Hedquist “grossly irresponsible.”

Wyden said Brown’s decision to show mercy to Kyle Hedquist, now 45, “is wrong on every level, starting with its callousness toward the crime victim’s family and extending to all Oregonians counting on public officials to make decisions with public safety in mind.”


Brown released Hedquist without bothering to inform the family of Nikki Thrasher, a 19-year-old who may or may not have known that Hedquist committed several burglaries. Hedquist lured Thrasher into the woods and shot her in the back of the head to keep her quiet.

Hedquist was convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But Brown released Thrasher’s executioner because he was such a good boy while in prison.

Holly Thrasher, Nikki’s still-grieving mother, wasn’t informed of her daughter’s murderer’s release until a TV station called her for comment.

“He took the life of my daughter in cold blood. It was a cold-blooded murder. He planned it,” Thrasher said.

Douglas County, where Hedquist lived in 1995, refused to accept his presence after he was released because the Thrasher family still lived in the county. Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson said their county had very little choice but to accept the murderer when the governor’s office rammed him down their throats.


The state gave one Marion County address the county’s community corrections team determined was not acceptable. They denied the petition only for the Governor’s Office to try again.

That notice, Clarkson said, came on April 13 when Hedquist was scheduled to be released. Clarkson says that was not enough time for Community Corrections to vet the address in south Salem given by the Governor’s office.

“This particular release into this community just seemed inappropriate for Marion County and wasn’t done with the appropriate protocol and the proper risk assessment and safety measures in place” Clarkson said. “The only thing that my sheriff and I were left to do was just let people know that it was happening.”


Hedquist had worked in the prison hospice facility for years and impressed people with his care and compassion for the dying — just like any sociopath is able to do. The fact that he had trouble finding a place to go should have been a tipoff that no one wanted Hedquist as a “guest” in their town.

DA Clarkson is troubled.

The concerns for the justice system echo from Clarkson. She says victims have reached out to her wondering why the perpetrator in their case was given leniency, why their sense of justice was diminished.

“I think what it’s telling them is they don’t matter, that these offenders are being prioritized over them and over what happens to them, their families and what is appropriate for public safety,” Clarkson said. “We need victims to trust us. We need them to participate. We need them to be willing to come to court and to hang in there with us.”

It’s part of a troubling pattern Clarkson has noted, among other district attorneys in the state, of Governor Kate Brown.

Even if you believe prison should be a place for “rehabilitation,” you have to agree that there are some criminals who commit crimes that are so heinous that they cannot be allowed to rejoin society under any circumstances. What are the chances that Hedquist will kill again?


They aren’t zero. And that should be a huge problem.


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