Police say no foul play in death after finding body in suitcase at northeast Salem apartment complex

Salem police responded to the Claxter Court Apartments Dec. 2 for a death investigation (Courtesy photo)

Salem police arrested a man who they say hid a body in a suitcase, but don’t suspect foul play in the death.

Officers responded around 10:05 a.m. Thursday to Claxter Crossing, an apartment complex on Claxter Court Northeast, after a resident reported they saw an unknown person remove a large suitcase from another apartment and put it in the trunk of a car parked in the complex’s parking lot. The witness said the resident of the apartment, Richard Eugene Flennory, 59, “had not been seen for the last several days,” according to a Friday afternoon news release.

Officers located Flennory’s car in the the complex parking lot and found a body in the trunk upon opening it.

The department’s Violent Crimes Unit investigated the death, and detectives later identified the body as Flennory. 

Police found two people were living inside Flennory’s apartment. They took one of them, Linson Lavell Johnson, 51, into custody on an outstanding warrant for a parole violation.

Detectives learned that Flennory “had multiple health issues which may have contributed to his death,” the news release said. When Johnson found Flennory dead, he put Flennory inside the suitcase and in the trunk of the car “to avoid a police response.”

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy and determined there was no indication of foul play in Flennory’s death. 

Forensic administrator Kelsey Evans said in an email Monday morning that the office wouldn’t release any details beyond what Salem police provided. She said the office generally releases cause and manner of death for homicide cases, and that “this case doesn’t meet that criteria.”

Johnson stands charged with second-degree abuse of a corpse and parole violation. He is in custody as of Friday afternoon at the Linn County Jail on the parole violation warrant, the news release said.

This story was updated after the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office responded Monday morning to an inquiry about the cause and manner of death.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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