This is the first part of a two-part series.
He worked at the Warrenton Mini Mart, socialized at Godfather’s Books and enjoyed nightly rounds of Jameson at the local bars.
To most, Mark Daniel Beebout, 40, seemed like your average guy. But soon, as local resident Amy Lewis discovered, it became clear his lifestyle was just an act – an act that proved deadly for two women in Portland.
Beebout signed a plea deal Feb. 22, accepting guilt in the murders of Nikayla Jaedon Powell, 32, and 15-year-old Mayra Sophia Cruz Rodriguez, a runaway from San Diego. Thursday he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lewis, Beebout’s girlfriend for more than a year while he frequented Clatsop County, was nearly victim No. 3.
“What I want to accomplish with speaking out is to let people know that first of all, this can happen to anybody, and clearly it happened to me,” Lewis said, an employee of Tongue Point Job Corps Center and a former volunteer at the Women’s Resource Center. “And secondly, I don’t feel like we do a good job of protecting our victims, at all.
“Somehow, here I am alive and these two women, one of them is a 15-year-old, are not. That’s something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life.” She paused tearfully, before continuing, “And that is really hard.”
Beebout and Lewis had a turbulent relationship from December 2010 until early 2012 that became so violent, he once beat and raped her – with a hammer below the bed. Her son came home and interrupted Beebout’s attack which Lewis believes saved her life.
That’s when she had him arrested and booked into the Clatsop County Jail. He was held on a previous conviction.
“I finally realized, I woke up, to how dangerous this was getting,” Lewis said. “So I had him arrested. They held him in jail for a month on failing to register as a sex offender. They interviewed me; I had to collect all of this evidence, but then they refused to move forward on pressing any charges and that was really difficult.
“The only reason I had come forward in the first place was to prevent other women from getting hurt and I really feel like I failed in that.”
It was a few months after Lewis had last seen Beebout that he was arrested in Seattle July 19 for Powell’s Portland murder. She was strangled with a shoestring; her body left for up to 10 days in her apartment until it was discovered by a maintenance worker.
Beebout, linked to the crime through DNA, was indicted on six counts of aggravated murder, two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count each of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sex abuse. He was also charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, according to a press release from Portland Police.
He was driving Powell’s car and had her dog in his possession when he was captured on the run.
“That’s what he would do,” Lewis recalled. “He would take my dog and threaten to hurt my dog. Just to get to me. That’s what made this whole thing more real – when they caught him with her dog.”
Beebout was also using Powell’s Oregon Trail Food Card, which ultimately led police to find him.
Before heading to Seattle, Beebout used Powell’s card at the North Coast Fred Meyer. He was coming back for Lewis.
“That’s the theory, yeah,” she said. “And I remember talking to my son, I said, ‘What would we have done if he saw us and drove up and said get in the car,’ and my son said, ‘Well, if it was you and (Lewis’ daughter) Annabel and he was taking one of you, you would have gotten in the car.’ And that’s the same way I feel about this 15-year-old. I don’t feel right. Nothing feels right about it.”
After Beebout’s arrest, more charges came his way.
On Aug. 16, a Multnomah County Grand Jury indicted Beebout for nine counts of another aggravated murder and one count each of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree sex abuse in connection with the death of Rodriguez, found dead in Portland's Washington Park June 26.
“It’s a stressful situation and sometimes I have bouts with post traumatic stress disorder,” Lewis said. “I have a lot of nightmares. Some days I feel safer knowing he’s behind bars, but when I don’t feel safe, I check online and make sure he’s still in there. I know he’s there, but I need to make sure and that helps. Once this is over, I hope I will have some closure and be able to move on.”
Now Lewis can rest assured. Beebout won’t bother her again. Under the plea deal, he also accepted guilt for an unrelated assault on another Portland woman.
In a strange twist, The Oregonian reported Wednesday Beebout has applied to change his name to Yunus Mohammed. No reason was given for the request and Yunus is Arabic for Jonah, swallowed by a giant fish until God forgave him and the fish spit him out.
Love story goes wrong
Lewis said Beebout was charming when they first met at Godfather’s Books on Commercial Street in November 2010.
He befriended her mother.
Then, he targeted her.
“My mom hangs out at Godfather’s. She’s 80 and she goes down there to have tea,” Lewis said. Her mother is a resident of the Owens-Adair Apartments. “I had gone in there to pick her up and he was there. And he basically targeted me pretty quick. We met just before Thanksgiving in 2010 and we were together by the end of December.
“He was very charming, very talkative, a very accomplished liar. When I met him, I honestly thought he had been here forever. He knew all the names to drop. He was volunteering at the senior center, and he knew (former manager) Paula Fisher. But whether he actually knew those people, looking back, I really don’t know.”
Although Beebout claimed he knew many Astorians, he was very ellusive about his past. Lewis knew he wasn’t from Astoria, but where he was from, he never would say.
“He was really good at hiding his back story. We were together for 14 months and I couldn’t possibly put together a timeline for him,” Lewis said. “The detectives and I tried. It was very difficult.”
Lewis, a mother of two children, who are now 18 and 20 years old, did take precautions about bringing a new man around her family. She had a background check performed on him. But at the time, Beebout was an unregistered sex offender, which meant his record in Oregon came up clean.
“I did that anyway, without any signs, because I had kids at home,” Lewis said. “But I missed it. Totally. Because he turned out to be an unregistered sex offender from California and from Illinois. So yeah, I missed it. Totally.”
Things were going well in early 2011 when Beebout and Lewis were growing their relationship. But he suddenly quit his job at the Mini Mart and at the same time, became homeless as well – something Lewis now feels was intentional. At the time, she said, it seemed as if life had just dealt him a bad hand. Looking back, she can see it was all part of his plan. It ensured he could live with her and take the relationship to the next level.
So as Lewis was footing the bill, Beebout convinced her to return to school in Portland, and within a few months she gave up purchasing her own home locally to move to Portland with him.
“I was away from my kids,” she said. But at that point, he had already begun to show signs of abuse. Once the abuse turned physical, she was stuck. But the couple eventually returned to Clatsop County when Lewis’ father died and she insisted she needed to be closer to her mother. Once they returned, Lewis said, the abuse got worse. He often threatened to hurt Lewis’ mother. He also threatened to hurt or kill her children or the dog. He took her back to Portland before her children came and rescued her, bringing her back to Astoria for good.
But he followed her here and convinced her to come back.
“I did the typical leaving at least five times before I finally had him arrested because,” she paused, noting how difficult it was to talk about, “he had raped me.”
The couple had been living in a storage unit in Warrenton right before the assault, but they had just moved into a Warrenton apartment.
That’s where detectives, she said, believed he was headed when he used Powell’s card at the Warrenton Fred Meyer after killing Powell and Rodriguez.
Four days before he arrived on the North Coast, Lewis had moved to Astoria.
He didn’t find her.
Coming Monday: Find out how Beebout was captured in Clatsop County, then released for jail overcrowding. Weeks later, he would go on to kill two women in Portland. He then came back for Lewis, but she safely hid before his arrest. That, and more, will be revealed in Part 2.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.