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Oregon AG Staff under Police Investigation, Found Dead

A long-time employee of the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) died in her home, ending a police investigation into her conduct. Two days later another DOJ employee was placed on administrative leave. Authorities refuse to reveal further details about the death or investigation.

Paula Heusinkveld, 51, was hired by DOJ in 1989 and worked as a management assistant in the trial division, when she was discovered dead in her home on August 30, 2012, according to Jeff Manning, a spokesman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Authorities believe she died on August 29, 2012.

Manning released two internal emails relating to Heusinkveld's death. One was written by Cheryl Pellegrini, Chief Counsel of DOD's Trial Division. In it, she confirmed that Salem Police were investigating Heusinkveld, but did not indicate why. However, "there is no indication that Paula's death involved foul play," wrote Pellegrini. She also informed DOJ staff that police had interviewed one employee and may question others, but again, she did not say why. The second email reported that a lock would be installed on Heusinkveld's office door and that police may search her office.

Manning disclosed that Salem Police were investigating Heusinkveld's death and Rosenblum had ordered an internal investigation. He declined to offer further details, however, about the cause of death or the name or relationship of the employee who was placed on leave. Co-workers weren't so tight-lipped, telling police and the media that Heusinkveld had a heroin problem.

The medical examiner initially ruled that Heusinkveld died of natural causes, according to police. The death investigation was continued, however, pending the completion of toxicology reports, given the suggestion of a heroin problem. Ultimately, those reports revealed that she did not have drugs in her system at the time of death, according to Salem Police Sergeant Alan Graham.

The employee who was placed on leave had not returned to work by October 18, 2012, but Manning again refused to disclose the person's identity or say why they were placed on leave.

Source: The Statesman Journal

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