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Birkel, Peter 03/31/1977; North Plains, OR age unknown
Topic Started: Dec 21 2006, 05:36 PM (4,046 Views)
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The Old Heifer! An oxymoron, of course.
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Friday, October 27, 2006
By Lisa Cromwell
The Argus

NORTH PLAINS - It is said the hills around North Plains are haunted by the unquiet soul of a murdered mountain man.

The legend says three men at a tavern on Commercial Street, where Rogue Brew Pub is now, robbed Peter Birkel, shot at his legs to make him dance, then killed him and dumped his body outside town. He disappeared March 31, 1977, never to be seen again.

A sheriff's investigation held soon after he vanished turned up no clues. Since then, some say they've seen his ghost rambling around the back country of Brunswick Canyon.

A sign at the Rogue allegedly written by the nebulous "4th son of Pumpkin Ridge Pete" tells the tale (as written) of "Hermit Pete," "Crazy Pete," "Drunken Pete," or "Old Pumpkin Ridge Pete." The story is that Pete lived without electric lights or running water in the back country on Pumpkin Ridge for more than 20 years.

"You would see Pete walking into North Plains to buy his weekly sack of grub, then packing it up on the mountain on his back," recalls the writer of the sign. "Almost everyone knew Old Pete. Pete had a right to live where he chose to, just as you do.

"Ten years ago when three of you were drinking and you bragged how you made old half-blind Pete dance as you shot at Pete's legs and how you put three slugs into Old Pete, one slug in his leg and two in Pete's chest," continues the writer.

"If this proves out to be true, it's cold-blooded murder, Mister."

If the story sounds like one from a Western, it's because that's the type of town North Plains still is, according to the mysterious "4th son." He wrote, "North Plains isn't just any old Western town out west. It's a town that still believes in the bars of justice."

However, the writer expresses his displeasure about the results of the investigation: "In the last 28 years, the so-called county sheriff's department has done nothing about Pete's disappearance. Nothing. Many people believe that the men who killed Pete are still around today. His body has never been found, and the sheriff's office is not currently investigating."

The writer asks those with information on Old Pete's disappearance to send it to a post office box to be forwarded to Unsolved Mysteries. Alternately, the person who penned the letter threatens those who did away with Pete:

"I'll tell you what, Trespasser! If you robbed the mountain man they call 'Pumpkin Ridge Pete,' if you made Pete dance and put a slug in his leg, if you drug Pete off into the mountain to rot, we'll hunt you down and you'll get a taste of Western justice."

"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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Pete was my great grandfather. I never got a chance to meet him, but heard many stories from family. I was told Pete made moonshine and drank a lot. Pete left his family and became a Hermit when my grandpa was just a boy. I was told my great grandmother had enough of Pete's drunken behavior and threatened to shoot him if he didn't leave her and the kids.

Pete had a genius IQ, but was sent to a mental institution for a short time while he was heavy into alcohol.

Pete had a POW son that never returned home. His body has never been found.

I would like to find more information on my great grandfather if anyone has additional info.


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