Residents of Josephine County were left shaken in the wake of an alleged homicide that occurred in O’Brien in late March. Though an arrest was made and charges have been filed, Oregon State Police are not releasing many details due to the fact that their investigation is still ongoing.
On March 30, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office received a missing persons report regarding 25-year-old Aleah Aaron of Cave Junction. JCSO and the Oregon State Police subsequently looked into the case, with the OSP major crimes division soon taking the charge of the investigation.
Although the specific location has not been revealed, law enforcement soon located Aaron’s body in a shallow grave in rural Josephine County. Shortly thereafter, 35-year-old Thomas Roberts Fuerte of O’Brien was arrested at his home and detained in the Josephine County Jail on charges stemming from the investigation.
Initially, Fuerte was booked on charges of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of a corpse, but according to the Oregon Judicial Database the homicide charge has been increased to second-degree murder. Fuerte claimed to investigators that Aaron was suicidal and that he believed she was going to attempt to take her own life with a firearm. According to Fuerte, when he allegedly tried to intervene, Aaron was shot twice.
Fuerte’s indictment took place April 10. It is worth noting that in addition to being held on the aforementioned charges, Fuerte is also being held on charges of harassment and second-degree criminal mischief stemming from a 2015 incident for which a warrant was issued.
Meanwhile, Aleah Aaron’s many friends are mourning her loss, all the way from her home state of Kentucky to the new home that she had found in Oregon. In her obituary, she is described as “a girl that loved life and always rolled by the seat of her pants,” who enjoyed music and nature, and had a variety of hobbies. She also had a young nephew that she loved to Facetime with.
Aaron’s local friends gathered at McGrew’s Restaurant and Lounge in O’Brien April 6 to grieve and honor her in a way that such a vibrant person should be honored- through music and simple human connection. Though the pain of the community is palpable, there is a clear hope that justice will be served, and it is abundantly clear that Aleah Aaron will continue to be loved and remembered by many.