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Community Mourns Ashland Homicide Victim

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ASHLAND, Ore. – Law enforcement from across the valley continues to investigate the Thursday night homicide of 62-year old Ashland resident Frank Damiano.

As the investigation into his death at the Bear Creek Mobile Home Park continues, friends and community members mourn his passing.

Damiano was known to many in the community as Tony Della Penna. But Christine Leonard, a close friend of Tony’s for the past eight years, said many affectionately referred to him by another nickname – Bear.

“He had a huge collection of teddy bears,” said Leonard. “Bear was part of his identity. Big bear hug, you know.”

Autopsy results reveal Della Penna’s death was a homicide. Now, deputies remain on watch over a crime scene still under investigation.

Leonard says it’s a constant and painful reminder of her friend’s passing, yet somehow reassuring.

“There’s a sense of safety in that,” said Leonard. “They’re just here all the time.”

She says even in death, Della Penna continues to leave his mark. A flamboyant man, his house had been decorated like a Christmas tree the past few days.

Adding in the police lights, Leonard says, would have been just his style.

“At least we’re doing it with flair, I said to myself. And that was his way, flair,” said Leonard.

Now an entire community awaits answers in a murder they say is completely mystifying.

“When we find out answers to our questions, then we can lift this up in a light way the way tony would have wanted us to do.

5 comments

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  1. Mike says:

    That he went by 2 different names raises some red flags. Something is wrong here.

    1. Nobody says:

      Ever heard of a stage name, or pen name?

  2. Rev. David Fantone says:

    Tony and i had chatted several time once he had joined the Southern Oregon Bears Group in the Yahoo system. A very nice man and one that had been around in his 60+ years. I wish i had gotten to know him better.

  3. Cathy says:

    Della Penna should have been his fathers last name, things used to get changed from the old country to USA. He never liked his first name Frank, he always liked Tony. He was my best friend for over 50 years. We could be far apart in miles but always forever close in our hearts. We would reconnect like only 15 minutes had passed. I will never recover from the loss. We would always laugh so hard about how much fun we had growing up. Happy Trails my dear friend, until we meet again in a kinder place. Love Cathy

  4. Denise says:

    I went to high school with Frank (Tony) and just heard of his tragic death over the weekend at our 45th class reunion. We were all devastated! He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. Why is it that just because someone chooses to use a different name, someone would assume something is wrong? I am disappointed you would say something like that, when you didn’t even know him.
    Cathy, none of us who knew him will ever recover from something like this. You hear about things like this happening to people, but pray it will never happen to someone you know. Rest in peace “Tony”. Your presence here will be missed by many who loved you. And like Cathy said, you are in a much kinder, (and gentler) place.
    Love, Denise

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