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Man Arrested in Slaying of Two Lesbian Activists

December 13, 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.

A phone tip led police to a Motel 6 in this central California city, where 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 slaying sent a shiver of fear through the gay community.

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

Police would not say whether Acremant was the prospective tenant.

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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