George Elwood Tschaggeny is accused of being the thief who stole the wedding ring off the finger of slain Portland MAX train hero, Ricky John Best.
Portland police released George Tschaggeny’s mugshot and name in a press release on June 2.
They said he was the thief captured on surveillance video with the victim’s belongings shortly after Jeremy Christian allegedly stabbed Best and two other men after they confronted Christian on the train when witnesses said he used anti-Muslim slurs against two teenage girls.
Best, a military veteran, and two other men – Taliesin Namkai Meche and Micah Fletcher – were stabbed when they intervened. Best and Namkai Meche died at the scene.
From the start, the horrific tragedy highlighted both the best and worst of human nature, as the slain men were praised as heroes.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tschaggeny Is Accused of Wearing Best’s Wedding Ring & Some Items Are Still Missing
The suspect is accused by police of wearing the slain hero’s wedding ring and taking his backpack.
In the early morning hours of Friday June 2, 2017, Central Precinct officers “located and arrested the suspect involved in the theft of a backpack and wedding ring of homicide victim Ricky Best,” police said in the news release.
Police said that George Elwood Tschaggeny, 51, was arrested in the area of Northeast Halsey Street under the Cesar E. Chavez overpass along I-84.
“At the time of his arrest, Tschaggeny was wearing Ricky Best’s wedding ring. Detectives also recovered Best’s backpack, but some items were missing, including a wallet with phone numbers of some of Best’s long-time friends. The wallet is described as a military-style camouflage colored wallet,” reported the Portland police.
2. Tips From the Public, Including an Alert Domino’s Pizza Employee, Led Police to Tschaggeny
Police released a surveillance video and still images of the thief and asked the public for help in catching him. Tips from the public were instrumental in the arrest, police said.
“After the images and video were released to the public on Thursday evening, detectives received numerous tips that a person matching the suspect’s description frequented the area of I-84 and Northeast Sandy Boulevard,” police say.
“Officers began checking the area and an alert Domino’s Pizza employee called police to report that she’d seen the suspect in the area earlier and believed he was staying near the Cesar E. Chavez overpass. Officers went into the area, located the suspect and took him into custody without incident,” reported Portland police.
According to Oregon Live, “Tschaggeny has been arrested or cited 25 times in Oregon since 1998, mostly for alleged traffic-related violations and mostly in Multnomah County.” He is homeless and was living in a transient camp, the newspaper reported.
3. Horrifically, Police Accuse the Suspect of Snatching Best’s Ring Off His Finger as Best Lay Dead on the Train Floor
It’s about the coldest crime you can imagine. In the news release, police say that Tschaggeny lifted Best’s ring from his finger after Best was killed. “Tschaggeny was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Theft in the Second Degree, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and Abuse of a Corpse in the Second Degree. He will be arraigned on Monday in Multnomah County Court,” police said.
“Based on the investigation, detectives believe that Tschaggeny removed Best’s ring from his finger after the attack,” added Portland police.
Police are still seeking information on the other missing items. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Best’s wallet and phone list is urged to contact Detective Michele Michaels at 503-823-0692, firstname.lastname@example.org, police said.
4. Ricky John Best Was Remembered as a Hero & Military Veteran
Ricky John Best was a military veteran and a City of Portland employee who was simply heading home when he stood up to defend two teenage girls he didn’t know. Police accuse the suspect, Christian, an alleged white supremacist, of slaying Best and Namkai Meche after hurling anti Muslim taunts at the two girls.
According to Oregon Live, Ricky John Best “was a city of Portland employee, Army veteran and onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner.”
The newspaper reported that Best “worked as a technician for the city Bureau of Development Services.” He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and left behind a wife and four children in their teens and age 12, according to Oregon Live.
“Best retired from the Army as a platoon sergeant for Corps maintenance in 2012 after 23 years in the military,” the newspaper reported.
When he ran for county commissioner, Best ran on a platform of not accepting any campaign donations, according to a profile at the time in The Oregonian.
5. The Other Two Victims Were Also Described as Positive Examples to Society
Namkai Meche and the surviving victim, Fletcher, also have been praised as heroes.
Namkai Meche’s mother identified her son as one of the victims. In a heart-wrenching Facebook post, she wrote, “Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever.”
His Facebook page says he worked at The Cadmus Group, studied Economics at Reed College, went to Stevenson School, and went to Ashland High School. Reed College praised Taliesin’s intellect and character in a statement after his death.
The surviving victim is a poet.