Blanche Campbell, 2001
Originally posted by dreamweaver

Other agencies also have high-profile unsolved cases. Oregon State Police still hope for a break in the case of
Blanche Campbell, whose body was found in the ruins of her burned Butte Falls home in May 2001.
How to help

Anyone with information about any of these open cases are asked to call the Jackson County Sheriff's Department tip line at 774-8333.
original newspaper report:
Fire death is loss for Butte Falls

There was no way to save 'Grandma Blanche' from flames and heat


BUTTE FALLS - The day before she died, Blanche Campbell told a friend that she would never leave her home and move closer to town, despite the fact she was 80 years old.

"She said, 'I wouldn't enjoy going anywhere. This is my home. This is where I'm going to stay,' " Butte Falls City Council member Stan Moore recalls. "She was a very spirited person."

Campbell - a longtime resident who made "the best pies you ever ate in your life," enjoyed quilting and was an active member of the Community Bible Church - died Tuesday in a fire that destroyed her 20-year-old home on Obenchain Road.

According to Butte Falls Volunteer Fire Chief Hugh Simpson, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Foul play does not appear to be a factor, he added.

The fire, which was reported at 4:40 a.m., apparently began in the southeast portion of Campbell's two-story home, Simpson said. Campbell, a widow who lived alone, may have been downstairs when the fire broke out, Simpson said, possibly sitting on a couch.

Resident Jake Hamann was on his way to work when he spotted the fire. He rushed to Campbell's home after calling for help.

Hamann, 19, often helped Campbell with yard work and called her "Grandma Blanche."

"It was completely engulfed," Hamann said. "It was pretty scary."

Campbell's neighbor, Gary Street, helped Hamann break several windows in an attempt to enter the locked and burning home, but the heat prevented them from entering.

The men saw Campbell's vehicle in her garage and knew she was inside the house.

"You couldn't do anything. The smoke and heat were so bad," Street recalled. "It's such a bad thing to happen. Everybody loved her."

Simpson said the fire had engulfed the home when seven firefighters arrived minutes later, forcing crews to work on containment.

Butte Falls firefighters, with help from Fire District 3, had the fire under control in about an hour.

"There was absolutely nothing we could do," he said. "The trees were charring and burning. Had there been any wind, there would have probably been a forest fire."

Resident and friend Joyce Hailicka remembers Campbell, the mother of one and grandmother of two, fondly and said the community will miss her.

"It's just so hard to imagine that. It's just gone," she said. "She was such a kind woman, who never had a bad word for anybody."

Central Point resident Betty Henson said Campbell worked as a beautician in Arkansas before she moved to the Rogue Valley. Henson, whose friendship with Campbell spanned 50 years, said Campbell lived in Central Point before moving to Butte Falls in 1976.

"Mainly she was a homemaker," Henson recalls. "She was very active. She loved to travel."

Campbell's death has made a major impact on the community, Simpson added.

"We all had tears in our eyes at some point. It was a very heartbreaking experience," Simpson said. "She had a tremendous reputation in this town. so kind and decent. She just made you light up inside."

Homicide, arson suspected in fatal house fire

Butte Falls grandmother, 80, slain; no suspects revealed


BUTTE FALLS - Investigators believe that an 80-year-old woman, affectionately referred to as a second grandmother to her neighbors, was a homicide victim whose home was set ablaze in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Oregon State Police are releasing few details as they continue to investigate the death of longtime Butte Falls resident Blanche Campbell.

Campbell - who lived alone in a two-story home on Obenchain Road - was pronounced dead at the scene after fire crews discovered her body May 8 in the ashes and rubble of her home.

According to volunteer Fire Chief Hugh Simpson, the blaze appears to have started in the southeast portion of Campbell's home. Last week, Simpson said it appeared that Campbell was downstairs, possibly on a couch, when the fire started.

The fire was reported at 4:40 a.m. by an acquaintance of Campbell. The man, who often worked in Campbell's yard and called her "Grandma Blanche," noticed the flames while traveling to work and attempted to enter the locked home with the help of a neighbor.

Oregon State Police detective Maureen Bedell said an autopsy was conducted Friday.

"The manner of death is a homicide," Bedell said, adding the she could not comment on the cause of death or if Campbell was dead before the fire started.

"The detectives are formulating leads and conducting interviews," she said.

Bedell said she can't say if a suspect or a person of interest has been identified, but she said the fire appeared to have been deliberately set.

"The fire was an attempt to cover up evidence," she said.

Officials from the interagency Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation unit are spearheading the investigation.

Bedell said members of the Oregon State Police Arson/Explosive Section and State Fire Marshal's Office combed the fire scene on Obenchain Road this weekend, sifting through ashes and rubble looking for clues.

Investigators also have questioned numerous community members, Bedell said, adding that everybody who knew Campbell had something good to say about the woman.

"Right now, we need the community's support to bring closure to this situation," Bedell said. "We're hoping that anybody with information will come forward."

Campbell, who was born in Arkansas, worked as a beautician and later moved to the Rogue Valley.

She lived in Central Point before moving to Butte Falls in 1976, according to friends. During that time, Campbell concentrated on raising her family.

Campbell was an active member of the Community Bible Church. A widow who lived alone since the death of her husband, Campbell was the mother of one and grandmother of two. She was an avid quilter who is remember fondly in the community for baking pies.