Updated: Aug 28
A turn of luck had led the Cowden family to the Carberry Creek area for a last-minute camping trip. The young family of four were delighted to have the time to indulge in the stunning nature Jackson County offered them. They didn’t have big plans; they were just excited to have time with their two young children to fish and to swim. The cherry on top was the plan of wrapping up the weekend with a dinner at Mrs. Cowden’s mother’s home. For unknown reasons, the family never showed up for that meal. Now, 50 years later, their case remains mostly unsolved, although an early parolee has always held the most suspicion as being the person responsible for what happened to the young family. Today, I’ll be telling you the story of The Cowden family: Richard, Belinda, David and Melissa, and how Dwain Lee Little may be their killer.
Episode Host: Alisha Holland
Little - Part 1
Last week, I told you the story of the Cowden Family and how Richard, Belinda, David, and Melissa seemed to have vanished while camping near Carberry Creek Road over the Labor Day weekend of 1974. Over 7 months later, their skeletal remains were discovered- Belinda and the children in a cave- Richard, tied to a tree. With very little to go on, police began looking into local men who would have, not only known the area well but could have been capable of such a monstrous act. It was when they read Dwain Lee Little’s name on the list of recently paroled prisoners the hair on their neck stood up and they felt they might have found the first person of interest. Today, I’ll be telling you about the crimes Dwain committed that landed him in prison, how he came to be released so early, and the harm he was able to commit as a free man. Was he the killer of the Cowden family? Only Dwain and the Cowdens know.
Episode Host: Alisha Holland
Little Part 2 - "She Rode Alone"
Part 1 Photos
Row 1: Richard and Belinda
Row 2: Family picnic (left), Melissa and David (right)
Row 3: Belinda and Melissa (left), Droopy at the campsite (right)
Photos from strangeourdoors.com
Part 2 Images
Top Row: Bruced D Little (left), The Olympian, Orla Fay (middle), Springfield HS Yearbook photo, Newspaper clipping (right), The Olympian
Bottom Row: Dwain Lee Harden (left), The Olympian, Dwain Lee Little (middle), Listverse, Dwain Lee Little (right), Park Predators
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Sources Part 1
Ann Rule - But I trusted you | Margaret LaPlante - Oregon’s Most Notorious Crimes | State v. Little :: 1965 :: Oregon Supreme | Court DecisionsCowden family murders - Wikipedia | Statesman Journal- Sept. 7, 1974- Hunt for Missing Family--'It's Getting to Look Really Strange'Albany Democrat-Herald- Sept. 1 | 1974- Police Lack Clue in Hunt for Family | White City, Oregon - Wikipedia | Paul John Knowles - Wikipedia | The Capital Journal - 05 Dec | 1974 - Authorities are still seeking clues to missing family | The Capital Journal- 17 Sept 1974- Man to be questioned about vanished family | Copper Oregon — True Crime in the Outdoors | Sturgis Fork Trail | Josephine County | Oregon | Unsolved So. Oregon: Mystery in the Woods Pt. 1 - KOBI-TV NBC5 / KOTI-TV NBC2
Sources Part 2
Ann Rule - But I trusted you | Margaret LaPlante - Oregon’s Most Notorious Crimes | Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease | Boston Children's Hospital | Ancestry.com- Little family tree | The Olympian 09 May 1961- Judge Clifford Rules Confession Stands For Murder Trial | The Olympian 21 March 1961- Lame Littlerock Resident Admits Slaying Brother | The News Tribune 22 March 1961- First Degree Charge Filed | The World 12 Oct 1964- 12 Die in Weekend State Highway Mishaps | Statesman Journal 04 Nov 1964 Ride on Horseback Leads Girl to Death | The Eugene Guard 31 Aug 1962- Result From The Annual Lan County Fair | Spokane Chronicle 09 Feb 1966- Murder case testimony ends | Statesman Journal 21 Nov 1964- Pastor says youth denies girl's slaying | State v. Little, 249 Or. 297 | Casetext Search + Citator | The Capital Journal- 11 Nov 1965 Trial of Boy 16, Okayed | Statesman Journal 01 Dec 1964 Youth Indicted In Slaying of Springfield Girl | Statesman Journal 09 Feb 1966- Jury to Get Little Case | Statesman Journal 13 Feb 1966- Dwain Little Is In Prison | The Capital Journal 09 Dec 1964- Body of Girl, 16, Removed for Exam | Statesman Journal 02 Feb 1966- Mass of Technical Evidence Given in Murder Trial | Orla Fay Fipps (1948-1964) - Find a Grave Memorial | The World 12 Oct 1964 Twelve Die In Weekend State Highway Mishaps | Longview Daily News- 10 Feb 1966 Dwain Little Convicted of Slaying Orla Fipps | Albany Democrat-Herald- 21 Sep 1967- | The Olympian 16 May 1966- Little's Aunt Files Protest | Hendricks v. State of Oregon, 67 Or. App. 453 | Casetext Search + Citator | Statesman Journal 29 April 1983= Marion County Circuit Court | The World 03 Nov 1980- Inmate transfer likely | The Capital Journal- 04 Jun 1980- $1 million bail ordered for parolee in inquiry | Corvallis Gazette-Times 09 July 1981- Rape Victim | Files $1 Million Suit Against State | Statesman Journal 11 June 1980- Man accused in recent case is suspect in 1974 deaths of camper family | The Bulletin- Sept. 3 1990- Killings Still Haunt Applegate Valley | The Olympian 03 July 1988- Killer's Odyssey: Flight, freedom, fate | 1988 Bruce Little arrested, 61 - Newspapers.com