Nick Riley finished a day plowing, and picked up a hitchhiker on a Tuesday afternoon in 1977. The man was a serial killer, who had just murdered a taxi driver--he held Riley and his wife, Bernice, overnight in their home, then took Riley for a 3-day marathon drive on the backroads of Eastern Oregon, (look three photos back, for my own story of my mindless pursuit)--taking two more hostages, changing cars several times, and killing one of his captives, 75-year-old Mary Lindsay, a rural rancher from Ione, Oregon, who angered Olds when she tried to talk to him about God and salvation.
"I never argued with him, and that kept me alive," said Nick, who made it home Friday, three days after his abduction, and was greeted by Bernice with a crab dinner, his favorite. He was amused by all the flowers that had been sent to his home by well-wishers--"when I think of all nice treatment I'm going to get the rest of my life...you don't know how sweet life is."
Riley and hostage Grace Davis, were released in Salt Lake City when Olds boarded a Greyhound bus--but they were so intimidated that they kept a promise not to call police until they returned home--so Olds got a half day start. He was finally captured in Philadelphia, with another hostage. He is now serving a life sentence in the state prison in Salem OR. Crime novelist Ann Rule wrote of Old's troubled teenage years and murders in "Rage to Kill".
Waiting for Old's "perp walk" in the county courthouse, I could see the TV camera lights were bright, and adding my strobe would be too much--so I took it off. But the TV crew was caught by surprise when the elevator door opened, and Olds--in a prison jump suit and draped in chains, sprung toward the camera crew like a Tasmanian devil. My shots were underexposed, (since I'd made my settings on the expectation of the TV lights--back before automatic camera settings--). They would've been great--the feral Olds, startled sheriff's deputies, and the freaked-out TV guy--all scuffling. On later assignments, death threats had been made against Olds, and security was severe, with police snipers staked out, scanning rooftops for members of the family of the slain cab driver, who'd vowed revenge. You weren't sure where the bullets might come from, and whether you'd have a Jack Ruby moment at any second.
Olds is now a 72 year old man, still serving his life sentence at the
state pen in Salem OR. I've covered many "Lifer's Club"
events, but haven't met up with Mr. Olds since that heated manhunt in
Nick and Bernice Riley lived happily ever after, in Pendleton, enjoying a peaceful and uneventful retirement. I eventually left Pendleton for Portland, where I still reside, a half hours drive north of Old's cell.