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Young Brothers Slain in Park While Searching for Golf Balls

September 6, 1989

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) _ Two young brothers who were found stabbed to death in a park had told their father they were going to pick up golf balls for pocket change, police said.

Autopsies showed that William James Neer, 10, died of a stab wound to the abdomen and his 11-year-old brother, Cole Laverne Neer, died of a stab wound to the chest, said Clark County coroner Arch Hamilton.

Investigators searched the scene of the killings Tuesday for clues, then shifted to an overgrown area across the road. Officers said they had no suspects, witnesses or motive in the Labor Day killings.

″This kind of stuff never happens in Vancouver,″ police Capt. Ray Anderson told reporters. ″We’re talking about the kind of stuff you read about and hope never happens to you.″

Acting Police Chief Bob King said the boys were stabbed repeatedly in their chests, but there was no evidence they were tortured or molested.

A passerby found William dead in a ditch in a wooded section of east Vancouver’s David Douglas Park on Monday evening.

Hours later, Cole’s body was found off a trail about 100 yards away.

King said officers found the boys’ bicycles on a trail about 50 yards from the spot where the younger boy’s body was found.

The boys’ father, Clair Neer, began looking for them when they failed to show up for dinner. They had left home in the afternoon, telling their father they planned to go to the nearby Vanco Golf Range to pick up balls outside the fence.

They planned to sell the balls back to the range, authorities said.

The bodies were found about a half-mile north of their home and about a half-mile east of the driving range, King said.

The boys aunt Kay Lohnes said the family moved to the Vancouver area about three years ago.

″They were just babies,″ she said. ″I can’t imagine anyone doing this to them.″

The boys have a 6-year-old brother, Richard. Clair Neer said Tuesday he was leaving his house with his surviving son and was moving in with the boys’ aunt in Hillsboro. The boys’ mother lives in North Dakota, Lohnes said.

″As soon as I step outside that door I’m gone,″ the father said. ″I’m not going to lose my last son to this.″

Neer said his two older boys were inseparable.

″They were like twins. Where one was, the other one was. If one was lost the other one went out looking for him.″

The bodies will be taken to Oberon, N.D., on Thursday to be buried at their grandfather’s side, Neer said.

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