The “Insane Pirate” Drifter and the Double Killing at the Fourplex
In the midst of Portland, Oregon’s “dumpster fire” chaos of 2020, two transient lovers met a quirky hustler offering a dream apartment deal. But it soon became a grisly nightmare.
It was 3:44 p.m. on June 16, 2020, when screams pierced the air, startling people at a nearby bottling company, a low-rent hotel and a trendy donut shop. Two young lovers came stumbling up the basement stairs of a dilapidated Portland fourplex apartment building with odd, runic symbols drawn on it — similar to the runes seen on a purple minibus that was often parked nearby. The couple had both been stabbed with a very large knife. The girlfriend, tiny at five-foot-one and 110 pounds, ran into the middle of the street, looked up at her neighbor, who had rushed out onto a balcony, and cried, “My boyfriend!” then collapsed.
The boyfriend, whose throat was cut and his heart, liver and lungs pierced, made it to the top of the basement stairs, then fell.
The neighbor on the balcony and others ran to help. People gathered. 911 calls poured in. But just before police arrived, a figure, later seen on the hotel’s video cameras, escaped via the rear of the building.
Three days later police arrested a man by tracking the purple minibus.
During a year in which homicides increased by 83 percent in Portland and made the biggest U.S. jump in six decades, this one grisly story might never have received much attention. But then a member of the far-right media noticed that five days before the stabbings, the alleged killer had been arrested at one of Portland’s chaotic late-night protests — which erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and grew into riots featuring clashes with law enforcement and counter-protesters.
“Breaking,” Andy Ngo tweeted to his then 668,200 followers. A man was arrested at a “violent #antifa protest,” but “quickly released,” then “stabbed two.” In September 2020, Breitbart, The Epoch Times, Law Enforcement Today, Daily Wire and others picked up Ngo’s outrage cry. The killings fit right into their attempts to link rising crime rates with protests and lenient law enforcement.
The true story, a deep-dive Narratively investigation reveals, is less political, and more bizarre. Six years earlier, the anarchist protester now charged with killing the young couple nearly won a seat in the Minnesota State Legislature — as a Republican. And the long, strange pandemic trip that led to this bloody scene was a product not just of political protest, but a national housing and homelessness crisis, untreated mental health issues and the inability of anyone in power to stop a self-proclaimed “insane pirate” who’d demonstrated violent warning signs again, and again, and again.