Murder of Buddy Herron stuns family, friends

<p>James Herron of Pendleton pauses while recalling his father, Buddy Ray Herron, who was stabbed Monday night on Highway 11 north of Pendleton and died Tuesday.</p>

James Herron was stocking shelves on the graveyard shift at the Pendleton Walmart when his cell phone rang. It was his mother, Kimberly Herron.

“It was unusual for her to call after 9, so I knew it was an emergency,” he said Tuesday.

She told her oldest son that his father, Buddy Ray Herron, had been stabbed several times and was fighting for his life.

Herron, 20, went to St. Anthony Hospital but was unable to see his father before he died early Tuesday morning. 

Buddy Herron, 42, was a corrections officer at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Pendleton. En route to work Monday night he spotted a crashed 2001 Subaru Legacy Wagon on Highway 11 about three miles outside Pendleton.

“My dad, being the good Samaritan that he is, stopped to see if he needed help,” James Herron said.

At 11:20 p.m. Monday, Buddy Herron called 9-1-1 to report he was stabbed and his 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup stolen. 

Police found a bloody Herron on the roadside. He died early Tuesday at the hospital, according to Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus.

The suspect, Joshua Charles Weeks, 22, of Portland, is in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, on charges of murder and attempting to elude police in a vehicle. The DA’s office plans to arraign him today.

Buddy Herron moved his family from Phoenix, Ariz., in December 2007 for a job at EOCI. His death has stunned family, friends and colleagues.

“I would expect if it had happened in Phoenix, but not in Pendleton,” James Herron said. “I would never expect that to happen.”

Herron’s widow, Kimberly Herron, said Tuesday she couldn’t talk about her husband. 

Growing up in Arizona, James Herron said he and his three younger siblings — Josh, 16, Jake, 13, and Jenna, 11 — didn’t get to know their father well. Buddy Herron often worked two or three jobs, leaving little time for family. That changed when they moved to Helix.

James Herron said his father liked working under the hood and taking his children target shooting.

“That was when we really hung out,” James Herron said.

During the past couple months, he and his father worked graveyard shifts. When their shifts ended, he said, they would get breakfast or simply walk around Walmart. They chatted about life and work, James Herron said.

Helping others was typical of his father, he said. Buddy Herron even joked around with James’ girlfriend, Kendall Farley, while she was in labor giving birth to his first grandchild, a girl, Shelbie Marie Farley.

“He was pretty good at it, too,” Kendall Farley said.

Pastor Mac McCallum of the Helix Community Church knows the Herron family, who lives across the street from the church. 

“We were good friends. We did a lot of barbecuing together, camping, our kids did a lot of things together,” McCallum said. “Buddy was a huge part of the community.”

He said the Herrons chose Helix as a home because they wanted their children in a good, small-town school. Herron often helped at the church with building maintenance, even odd jobs, such as cleaning the gutters.

“Whatever needed to be done, if he couldn’t help me he’d have one of his sons help me,”?McCallum said.

Herron’s son Josh, 16, started learning the ropes at the fire department in preparation of joining at age 18, McCallum said.

“He told me, ‘I can never fill my dad’s boots but I want to try to take his place,’” he said. 

Shelbie Marie Farley slept in her crib Tuesday afternoon at her parents’ apartment in Pendleton. Buddy Herron was excited about being a grandfather, they said.

Yet Buddy was fearful of holding a baby. James Herron said years ago an uncle quickly handed his father a baby, and he nearly dropped the infant.

But Buddy Herron held his granddaughter soon after her birth.

Then Farley’s face saddened. Shelbie’s grandfather won’t be there to teach her to shoot or drive a stick shift, she said.  Weeks had no reason to take Buddy Herron’s life, Farley said.

“He took someone that was amazing from us,” she said. 

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