Men arraigned on murder charges, third person in custody

Men arraigned on murder charges, third person in custody »Play Video
Michael Lee Gertson, 31 (foreground), and Jesse Jack Longhenry, 46, in court on Monday

COQUILLE, Ore.-- The person of interest police sought in connection to the murder of a homeless man in Coos Bay is now in custody.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said on Monday that the person of interest is in the Coos County Jail on charges related to a separate crime. "We know who he is. We know where he is, and in fact, I can tell you he is in custody," Frasier said.

Frasier said he could not reveal right now if the man will face any charges related to the murder, or if he was just a person of interest who witnessed the crime take place.

The two men police currently have in custody,  Michael Lee Gertson and Jessie Jack Longhenry, were arraigned on murder charges Monday afternoon.

Frasier said good police work got the two primary suspects in custody within 24 hours of the two 911 calls that lead them out to 675 Hemlock Ave., where they say they found the body of 34-year-old Jessie Hayes laying dead in a side yard being used for trash disposal.

"It really shows you the quality of professionals we have working in this area," Frasier said. "We know the statistics show that the first 72 hours are critical in catching a suspect, and they were able to get them into custody very quickly."

The incident appears to have taken place inside apartment one at the Hemlock address, and the two men are accused of disposing of Hayes' body by placing him outside once he was dead, Frasier said.

He also said it does not look like there will be a murder weapon in the case because the men allegedly beat the man to death.

"At this point, I don't believe a weapon was used with regards to the blunt force trauma," Frasier said. "Its early, but I don't have any indication at this time that point to something like a bat being used."

The medical examiner performed a autopsy on Hayes' body the same day his body was discovered. The man is believed to have died because of heavy bleeding to his brain caused by blunt force trauma. It also appears that the men allegedly tried to strangle Hayes at one point, but that did not lead to his death, Frasier said.

Both men are due back in court next week, and a grand jury will be assembled on Thursday.