PORTLAND, Ore. — A white supremacist sought in the stabbing death of a retiree in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego slashed a man’s face at a Utah bus station nine days before the murder, police said Friday as they stepped up their search.
Authorities in Ogden, Utah, have an arrest warrant for 37-year-old Erik John Meiser that accuses him of aggravated assault in a Sept. 8 incident. Ogden police said in a statement that the victim’s face was “severely slashed” with a razor-style knife and needed treatment at a hospital.
A witness helped officers find Meiser shortly after the alleged attack, police said. It’s unclear if he was taken to jail and, if so, for how long. But detectives secured an arrest warrant after discovering his history of violent crimes.
Ogden police Lt. Tony Fox declined to comment on why Meiser was allowed out of custody.
Oregon police, meanwhile, have alerted authorities nationwide to be on the lookout for Meiser. He is suspected of fatally stabbing Frederick “Fritz” Hayes early Monday in a home invasion attack. The suspect’s face will be displayed on billboards throughout the Portland area and Salem.
“We’re just throwing as wide a net as we possibly can and then make it wider,” said Bryon O’Neil, spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
Records show Meiser has an arrest record in eight states that stretches back more than 20 years. None of the crimes were in Oregon or Utah. They include assault, battery, burglary, disorderly conduct, drug possession, ethnic intimidation, making obscene phones calls, trespass, theft and vandalism.
Meiser has white supremacist tattoos, including one on his knuckles that spells out “Neo Nazi.”
Hayes, 57, died in front of his wife, Margaret, during a confrontation with an intruder burglarizing their home. Margaret Hayes told officers the attacker was armed with at least two knives. She was unhurt.
Investigators have found no link between Meiser and the couple. Fritz Hayes was a recently retired information technology professional who also worked as an official for high school lacrosse games.
Public records indicate Meiser, when not behind bars, spent much of his life in Minnesota. Neighbors at a St. Paul address where Meiser lived in the 1990s said they couldn’t remember him with certainty, but referred to the place where he lived as a “drug house.”
Meiser’s most recent address was in Colorado and he now appears to be a transient.
He is described as white, 6-foot-5, weighing between 170 and 190 pounds. He has blue eyes, brown hair and was last seen with a scraggly beard.