Ex-fiance confesses to killing, police say

By Mark Baker | Local News | |

Springfield police say they found body after hospital workers were told of slaying

SPRINGFIELD — Robert Allen Cromwell and Casey Lynn Wright had apparently been engaged for more than two years and shared a home together on a quiet street in the middle of town.

Police say the relationship ended a couple of weeks ago and sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning, the short life of the 26-year-old Wright, a 2006 Sheldon High School graduate and avid horseback rider, ended in violence.

Now Cromwell, 32, faces a murder charge after he allegedly confessed to killing Wright, police said.

Emergency room personnel at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center called Springfield police about 2 a.m. Saturday after an injured man they were treating, identified as Cromwell, reportedly made the confession, according to a press release.

Minutes later, officers conducting a welfare check on the rental house the couple shared at 818 18th St. discovered Wright’s body in a bedroom. The house is located about a block from the hospital.

Springfield police Sgt. David Lewis said the victim suffered “obvious trauma and a weapon was found at the scene.” He declined to specify the injuries or the weapon.

A family member had picked up Cromwell outside the home and drove him to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, which Lewis described as self-inflicted and “very superficial.”

Cromwell, a 1999 graduate of Springfield High School, and Wright lived together but had separated within the last couple of weeks, Lewis said. Cromwell’s Facebook page said the couple had been engaged since September 2011.

Photos on Cromwell’s Facebook page show them attending an Oregon football game at Autzen Stadium in September 2011, snuggling together during Thanksgiving of that year and attending a 49ers football game in San Francisco last year.

Cromwell had helped Wright land a job at a metal fabrication plant in Springfield, said John Dowell, owner of the Pita Pit in downtown Eugene, where she had worked for several years.

Dowell described Wright as a “good kid” who loved horses. There are numerous photos of Wright riding in competition and caring for horses on her Facebook page.

“It’s kind of sent shock waves through this place,” Dowell said of Wright’s death.

Janice Ketsche, a friend of Wright’s who met her about five years ago through Rohan Equestrian, a Eugene horse-riding school and business, said friends and Wright’s mother, Sydney Brooks of Eugene, gathered at Triple Crown Farm in Pleasant Hill — where many of them keep their horses — on Saturday after hearing the news.

Ketsche and others have started a fund to raise money to care for Wright’s horses and for Womenspace, a Eugene nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence. The site has a $5,000 goal and had already raised more than a $1,000 by Saturday night.

“Casey was an avid equestrian who had big goals in the hunter world,” the site read Saturday. “She was meticulous in the care of her horses, especially her dear Duncan, who had surgery just before Casey’s untimely death. Donations are being accepted to defray the cost of Duncan’s surgery. Donations will also go to Womenspace, which works to help victims of domestic violence. Ride on, Casey.”

“She was the hardest worker,” Ketsche said of Wright. “She never shied away from any of the gross tasks” at the farm and was always the first to volunteer to buck hay, Ketsche said.

“She was the kindest person,” she added. “I don’t think I ever heard her say a negative thing about another person. She was really kind of the glue that held our farm together. A lot of the younger girls looked up to her.”

Doug Thompson, who lives near the rental house on 18th Street that Cromwell and Wright shared, said he had heard the couple arguing inside the house three or four times.

“It was always loud,” he said.

Cromwell had not been previously booked at the Lane County Jail, according to a jail records supervisor. He has no prior criminal history in Oregon, according to state court records. Lewis said a different woman had secured a restraining order against Cromwell six years ago, but he didn’t know the details.

“I had met him once or twice,” Ketsche said of Cromwell. “He seemed nice enough. I know most of the folks who knew him didn’t like him for her. I think some people were worried that this might happen, but you never think this is going to happen.”

Cromwell is being held at the Lane County Jail, and his first court appearance is scheduled for Monday. An autopsy of Wright’s body also is scheduled for Monday.

It’s the second homicide in Springfield in less than two weeks. On Oct. 22, the body of 59-year-old Susan C. Jackson was found in her home on the 6300 block of D Street. Her son, 23-year-old Sean P. Kelley, was arrested in Mendocino County, Calif. later that day and charged with killing her.