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Phil Stanford-11/4/2010

Portland author, investigator, and former journalist Phil Stanford is happily re-visiting some of Oregon's dark and nasty crimes. He has just released the second in his projected three-book series on true crimes in The Beaver State.

The first book, Portland Confidential, took a look at the racketeering, police corruption, and vice scandals that defined the city back in the 1950s. Big Jim Elkins put the sin in "Sin City": Portland, that is, not Las Vegas. This is the story of real Portland noir.

Phil's latest book, The Peyton-Allan Files, talks about the murders of Larry Peyton and Beverly Allan, two teenagers who were probably necking in an isolated spot close to Portland one night. Because they were young and typical teenagers, the crime seemed especially heinous. Phil goes back over the facts of the case, takes a long, hard look at the suspects, and draws his own conclusions.

What Phil did especially well during his talk was to describe what Beaverton, Hillsdale, and Portland were like in 1960, when the murders occurred. Unlike the often-congested suburban communities they are today, Beaverton and Hillsdale were fairly remote back then. Portland and the close-by towns made their money from logging, shipping, and racketeering. There were lots of gun stores and there was still a "wild west" atmosphere. One of the suspects, for instance, was hunting for cougar the night of the murders. When was the last time that sort of story hit the news?

Significantly, most of the transcripts have been thrown away, Phil said, except for parts needed for the appeal of the people tried for the murders. Also, the infamous Columbus Day Storm of 1962 changed the physical look of the murder site. It's been a long time since the murders ... fifty years, in fact, a cheerless anniversary to note.

What's a likely topic for Phil's third book? The 1989 murder of Michael Franke, the Oregon Corrections director at the time, in Salem has occupied a lot of Phil's journalistic career. No one has been indicted for that crime. Perhaps Phil has some ideas about that. Make that: We're sure Phil has some ideas about that.