One Of The Most Frightening Crime Strings Our Region Has Seen To - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

One Of The Most Frightening Crime Strings Our Region Has Seen To Air On Dateline

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On August 14th, 2012 the Travelodge in Pendleton transformed from a small local motel to the scene of a murder. As the acting officer in charge came on that scene he would soon realize what happened there was just the beginning. On August 14th, 2012 the Travelodge in Pendleton transformed from a small local motel to the scene of a murder. As the acting officer in charge came on that scene he would soon realize what happened there was just the beginning.
NBCRightNow.com – It's one of most frightening strings of crime our region has seen. A murder and a deadly attack that both occurred almost exactly a year apart in the tight-knit community of Pendleton, Oregon.

On August 14th, 2012 the Travelodge in Pendleton transformed from a small local motel into a crime scene. As the acting officer in charge came on that scene he would soon realize what happened there was just the beginning.

"As soon as one of my patrol sergeants arrived on scene, he requested my presence, which I knew then we were probably dealing with a homicide," explained Lieutenant Bill Caldera.

Amy Jane Brandhagen worked at the Travelodge as a housekeeper, known to many in her small city as a spiritual and kind person. She was also a close family friend of Caldera.

"I just can't tell you the...the feeling that went through...went through my mind," said Caldera fighting through tears.

"Almost like, she was your kid in a way," asked Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison.

"Very much," replied Caldera.

Out for justice the Pendleton Police Department investigated the murder. They were left with a DNA sample but no match for a killer. It was a cold case for almost exactly one year.

On August 9th 2013 Karen Lange was attacked on the River Parkway in Pendleton. The weapon left behind gave officers what they needed to investigate… that same matching DNA found at Brandhagen's murder scene.

"I just...I shook my head. One of the detectives had gotten his hands on an image of Amy Jane Brandhagen and Karen Lange together," said Chief Stuart Roberts during his Dateline interview.

"It's the sort of thing that might make a person jump to a conclusion or two," remarked Morrison.

"It's... it certainly caused us to...to look in other directions," answered Roberts.

With matching DNA and surveillance video of the new attack a suspect was finally discovered. Media coverage circulated 23 year-old Lukah Chang's face throughout the region. He was recognized and caught. Everything up to that point lead police to one main question in their interview with Chang.

"Why?" asked the officer conducting an in-custody interview.

"See how it felt," said Chang.

"See how what felt?"

"Taking a life."

"Why?"

"I was curious."

"How did it feel?"

"Empowering. Saddening."

"Empowering and saddening at the same time?"

"Uh huh. Yes. Empowering because I took a life. Saddening because I realized at the sametime, life is precious."

The complete Dateline report airs Friday November 7th at 8 p.m. on NBC. 
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