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Murder Charges Dismissed Against Man Accused of Killing Son

Detectives have now found evidence to suggest that the elder Mortensen acted in self-defense.

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 2:53 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 10:07 AM

KLAMATH RIVER, Calif. — Days after the initial arrest of 76 year-old Stanley Mortensen, the Siskiyou County Sheriff now says that all charges are being dismissed pending further investigation. Mortensen was initially charged with murder, after his son was found dead of one fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

Detectives now believe that 40 year-old Henry Mortensen exhibited a pattern of increasingly aggressive and erratic behavior, particularly toward his father. On the day of the younger Mortensen's death, a witness says that the man was almost incomprehensible, and may have uttered a threat on his own father's life. 

Evidence at the crime scene seems to corroborate Stanley Mortensen's story—that Henry came to his father's property on Monday night, acting belligerent and threatening, and that Stanley fired a warning shot from his .45 caliber automatic pistol into the floor of his trailer, before ultimately firing on his son. The Sheriff says that Henry appears to have been climbing the steps of his father's trailer, and had the door open before a single shot crashed into his upper-chest. 

Earlier that day, Stanley Mortensen had actually called the Sheriff's office, telling them that he feared his son's behavior. The Sheriff's office had advised Stanley to seek a restraining order. Stanley attempted to do just that—but the Siskiyou County Court House in Yreka was closed that day in observance of Lincoln's birthday. That same night, tragedy struck on the Mortensen property.

Neighbors seemed incredibly saddened by both Henry's death and Stanley's arrest. They acknowledged that Henry had long been troubled with apparent mental health issues. They said that they thought Henry had recently stopped taking some prescription medication that may have reigned in the worst excesses of his behavior. One neighbor remembered Henry as a nice young man, who had worked on the neighbor's property as a ranch hand. They also said that Stanley Mortensen loved his son very much, and had always tried to help him.

Now, the Siskiyou County Sheriff says, a long history of behavior amounting to elder abuse is becoming apparent from Stanley's statements, and corroborated by past complaints to law enforcement. Tomorrow, the Sheriff said, will be Henry Mortensen's autopsy. Unless further details emerge that contradict Stanley's claims to self-defense, all charges will remain dropped.

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