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Autopsy confirms: Sara Gomez died of ‘homicidal violence’


(Update: Adding DA comment on delay in autopsy report)

A 24-year-old Bend woman whose body was found wrapped in a tarp three months after she disappeared earlier this year died of homicidal violence, autopsy results released Monday show. But Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said the timeframe was too long to confirm how Sara Gomez was killed by her former boyfriend, who committed suicide in the Deschutes County Jail.

Here’s Hummel’s full statement on the report from state Chief Medical Examiner Michele Stauffenberg regarding Gomez, whose February disappearance prompted intensive search efforts for many weeks, until her body was discovered in May in a remote area east of Bend:

“The Oregon State Medical Examiner completed her autopsy of 24-year old Bend resident Sara Gomez and issued her official report. The Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be undetermined and the manner of death to be homicide.

“Sara’s body was found on May 25, 2018, in Deschutes County approximately 20 miles east of Bend off of Highway 20. Her body was found wrapped in a tarp, comforter, blanket, foam mattress, and an inflatable raft that were all bound around her body with duct tape. The Medical Examiner further noted that Sara’s body was in “an advanced state of decomposition.”

“The fact Sara’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition is consistent with Bryan Penner killing her between when he was last seen with her on February 18, 2018 and being lodged in the Deschutes County Jail on February 22, 2018.

“Statement from Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel:

“The Medical Examiner’s report brings this matter to a close for law enforcement: There is no doubt that Bryan Penner killed Sara Gomez. Of course, the closure of this case by law enforcement does not bring closure to Sara’s family. They will live every day with the memory of the strong, smart, and beloved member of their family who was taken from them. I hope they take some solace in knowing that Sara’s spirit will live on in this community long after Bryan Penner is but a distant memory.”

Asked why it took nearly five months for the state to complete the autopsy report, Hummel noted that “active homicide cases always take priority,” and in this case, the man suspected of the crime had killed himself.

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