The Trapper Murders Album

This fisherman was kind enough to park his canoe in the outlet of Little Lava Lake, the source of the Deschutes River. Photo was taken from the probable location of the murder scene and the trapper’s cabin, which is also the current site of the Little Lava Lake Campground. The killers displayed psychopathic behavior when they chose to haul the bodies one half mile, to Big Lava Lake, rather than simply placing them here, where they would have been carried downstream and away from the crime scene.

The Deschutes County coroner examines the peculiar shoulder wound of Marine Corps veteran and victim Harry LeRoy Wilson. The life of a Marine is not easily taken, and the killing of Wilson posed a complex problem for both the murderers and the author.

Little Lava Lake on a lovely summer day. Photo was taken by the author during a search for the old site of the Trapper’s cabin. The cabin itself no longer exists.

In happier times, victims (from left) Dewey Morris, Roy Wilson, and Ed Nickols, pose for a gag photo outside of the cabin at Little Lava Lake where Nickols served as a caretaker for the cabin and some fur foxes, all owned by Edward F. Logan. Nickols feared what might happen if his former partner, Charles Kimzey, showed up, and so he asked the two younger men to spend the winter with him. Contrary to folklore, the three victims were not really trappers. Morris and Wilson were loggers for the Brooks-Scanlon company, and trapping was a mere recreational pastime. Photo was probably taken in the fall when Morris and Wilson were delivered to the lake.

This area map shows the likely route of escape made by the killers in January of 1924, and was compiled from information developed by the sheriff’s departments of Deschutes and Multnomah Counties. The killers were believed to have traveled from Little Lava Lake to the Schumacher Fur Company in Portland via the McKenzie River Trail, and the town of Lowell.

The author and her faithful research assistant, on the trail at Little Lava Lake.

Concerned family members, friends, and members of the search party look on as Deschutes County Coroner C. P. Niswonger examines the body of one of the victims at the recovery scene at Big Lava Lake.

Bodies of Dewey Morris (left) Roy Wilson and Ed Nickols floating in Big Lava Lake after they were tied with ropes and towed near shore by deputy Clarence Adams. The killers used a hand sled to haul the bodies to Big Lava Lake in January, and shoved them through a hole in the ice. They were not found until April, after concerned family members snowshoed in to the Cascade Lakes west of Bend and conducted a search.

Charles Hyde Kimzey (top), and Ray Van Buren Jackson (bottom). Kimzey was the only suspect ever named in the Lava Lakes triple murder case, although investigators had evidence that Kimzey worked with a psychopathic partner in the killings. The author was able to prove several connections between Jackson and Kimzey, and The Trapper Murders offers convincing evidence that Jackson was the accomplice in this true central Oregon mystery.

The Lava Lakes triple murder occurred at this log cabin in 1924 when it was isolated by several feet of winter snow, and well fortified with numerous guns and weapons. The shear difficulty of carrying out such a crime against three men, a sworn enemy; a burly young logger; and a Marine Corps veteran, required a partnership arrangement.