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Man Arrested in Slaying of Two Lesbian Activists

December 14, 1995

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) _ A SWAT team converged on a motel Wednesday and arrested a 27-year-old man in the slaying of two lesbian activists found bound, gagged and shot in the back of their pickup truck in Oregon.

Robert James Acremant was jailed pending extradition on charges of murdering Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill.

Authorities in Medford, Ore., had issued an arrest warrant for Acremant on Tuesday.

His father, Kenneth Acremant of Stockton told The Associated Press on Wednesday that police told him his son admitted to killing the women and his missing friend, Scott George.

Acremant said that during a prison visit, his son told him he killed George, 23, out of anger and that he killed the women in a botched attempt to get enough money to flee the country.

He said his son had quit a steady job to market a computer program, began running out of money and then his girlfriend ended their relationship.

``He wasn’t brought up this way,″ the elder Acremant said. ``Something happened to him and he cracked.″

A phone tip led police to a Motel 6 in this central California city, where Robert Acremant had registered under his own name and had parked a U-Haul van, said police Sgt. Billy Wykert. Acremant surrendered without incident.

Medford Police Chief Ray Shipley refused to discuss the evidence against Acremant or a motive for the slayings last week of Ellis, 53, and Abdill, 42.

The couple had spoken out against efforts to limit homosexual rights in Oregon, and their murders sent a shiver of fear through the gay community.

John Bondurant, chief deputy district attorney in Oregon’s Jackson County, said authorities weren’t ruling out any possible motive for the slayings.

However, ``Nothing in the evidence we have indicates Mr. Acremant knew either of these women were lesbians,″ he said.

Acremant knew Ellis through a property management agency the women ran. He had been shown the apartment where the women disappeared two weeks prior to the killings.

In Visalia, the central California city where Acremant used to live, police said he had been questioned in the October disappearance of George.

``My son went out with George one night drinking and somewhere after drinking they were driving and my son had a gun in his car and he pulled the gun out and shot him,″ Kenneth Acremant said. ``He said he just felt this anger to kill and he just did it.″

The younger Acremant has no criminal record in California, Visalia police Sgt. James German said.

He was in the Air Force from 1985 to 1989 and earned a master’s in business administration from San Francisco-based Golden Gate University, Bondurant said. Acremant didn’t hold jobs in Visalia or Medford, Visalia police Sgt. James German said.

Acremant had moved to Medford recently with his mother, who lives within blocks of where the bodies of the two women were found.

Ellis and Abdill were bound hand and foot, gagged and blindfolded with duct tape, and were shot twice each in the head with a pistol as they lay in the truck.

The two disappeared Dec. 4 after Ellis, who was a partner with Abdill in a property management company, showed an apartment in Medford and then called Abdill for help starting the stalled truck. Their bodies were discovered three days later in the truck, which was parked at the apartment complex.

Cherie Garland, who with her husband, Jerry, became close friends with Ellis and Abdill through the support group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said the arrest was a relief.

``My feeling is I’ll hate to see his face,″ she said from the First United Methodist Church in Ashland as family and friends gathered for a memorial service. ``It’s a little bit of an ease of tension, but a dread of what we are next to learn.″

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