Homeless veteran stabbed to death in Portland

Source: GoFundme

Savannah Eadens

oregonlive.com

(TNS)

Anthony Matthew Hartley stood outside Northeast Portland’s Gateway Transit Center one day last year as a bus pulled up. As a man stepped off the bus, Hartley called out to him, “Hey, what’s the matter, did you lose your smile today?”

Then Hartley, a homeless Army veteran, bent over and pretended to pick something up off the ground.

“Here it is!” he said, and the stranger grinned. Hartley did things like that often, according to his friends and family.

“Anthony just couldn’t understand why the world was such an unhappy place, why people were so grumpy,” his mother, Darlene Hererra, said.

She buried Hartley, her only son, earlier this month.

Hartley, 40, died in a pool of his own blood on Sept. 30 at West Burnside Street and Northwest Third Avenue in Old Town. Police arrested Dorian Ambrose Cannon, 50, a man with an extensive criminal record and who spent time as a psychiatric patient at Oregon State Hospital. Cannon is accused of stabbing Hartley once in the neck with a knife and telling police he had to do it “for my humanity.”

Hartley was one of at least 15 people experiencing homelessness who have been killed on Portland streets this year – about 18% of the city’s 83 homicide victims.

Even while living on the streets off and on for 18 months before his death, Hartley had made it a personal mission to spread as much joy as possible, friends said.

At six-feet-tall and 200-plus pounds, Hartley was a “big guy with a loud voice,” said Hartley’s best friend, Jeff Clam.

The two were “brothers from another mother” – Anthony the brawn, Jeff the brains, said Jeff’s mother, Linda Clam.

The boys met in 1998 when Jeff was a student at Franklin High School and Anthony – who later earned his GED – was dating a girl who was Jeff’s close friend. They’d go on double dates and play Pokemon at the mall together. Later, they were roommates for 10 years after Hartley got out of the U.S. Army. Hartley worked at a Plaid Pantry for many years.

“I never thought of him as anything less than my family,” Jeff Clam said. “There was a time that I was suicidal, and I actually attempted to take my life… (Anthony) is the one who called 911. He’s the one that stuck his finger down my throat to make me throw up the pills that I took. He’s the one that sat by my side, who always protected me.”

Clam’s kids called Hartley “uncle.” Hartley himself had three children, and Clam’s and Hartley’s oldest sons, now teenagers, grew up playing together.

And Hartley is the reason Clam took a job as a housing case manager for veterans. He wanted to help people like his best friend. Hartley was on track to get back on the waiting list for the federal grant and per-diem program for homeless veterans.

That process had been derailed when Hartley was briefly accused of manslaughter in the death of another homeless man last year.

Hartley was arrested and detained in July 2021 when Frank Keller, 61, was found dead on North Lombard Street after an alleged fight. Hartley’s family said Keller swung at Hartley and missed, causing the man to fall.

The medical examiner determined Kelly died from a heart attack after hitting his head on the ground.

“There were witnesses and that’s why they let him go,” Linda Clam said, adding: “He sat in my home and cried telling me about what happened… He didn’t want to fight.”

While he was in custody, Hartley’s companion, a small “Chiweenie” dog, was apparently stolen from his campsite.

Hartley, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, seemed to struggle with his mental health even more after that, Linda Clam said.

Dangerous situations became increasingly difficult for him to avoid, she added.

“One man tried to beat him with a tire chain,” she said. “The violence on the streets is horrible.”

But he’d still visit Linda Clam’s home once a week, always cheerful, to watch a movie and eat a pizza, she said.

His friends and family in Portland couldn’t regularly give Hartley shelter, for various reasons.

His mother, Darlene Herrera, wanted to house him in an extra bedroom but wasn’t allowed to because she operates a daycare out of her home – and Hartley had a criminal record. He was convicted in Multnomah County of fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, in 2005. He also was convicted of third-degree theft in 2006.

“Anthony understood that, though; he never … held it against me,” Herrera said.

Two cases, one accusing him of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, the other of second-degree burglary and strangulation, were dropped after Hartley’s death.

Herrera begged her son to stay near downtown, close to the food, shelter, medication and other social services he needed, but he felt he wasn’t safe. Hartley would visit his mother every day, and she’d encourage him to sleep at Rocky Butte, where it was quiet and isolated. He could relax there, she said.

Hartley would knock quietly on his mother’s bedroom window when he’d visit at night, so as not to wake any of the home’s other residents.

“I sit there and cry in my bedroom at night now because I keep thinking I hear him knock on the window,” Herrera said.

She said she’s taken to sleeping on a recliner in the living room.

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