The Umatilla/Morrow Major Crimes Team is investigating a home invasion assault that left a 79-year-old woman in critical condition.
Joyce Key was attacked in her home on Schubert Lane in Umapine, which is south of Walla Walla in Oregon, said Umatilla County District Attorney Daniel Primus.
Key was listed in critical condition Thursday evening at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.
Key was discovered in her home Wednesday morning about 8 a.m. by her son, who called police. Scanner traffic following the initial report indicate Key had suffered injuries to her head and face.
Sheriff's deputies responded to the report, and at 10:45 a.m., Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan called out the Major Crimes Team to investigate the assault.
"We don't have any suspects at this time," Primus said. "We do have a person of interest we are trying to locate."
Primus also said the motivation for the attack is not yet clear.
"It's being investigated as a home invasion assault," he said.
The assault also has spawned a social media outcry, with local residents expressing their dismay on Facebook. Some residents have expressed frustration at the perceived lack of law enforcement coverage of the area west of Milton-Freewater, with a few advocating direct action by citizens.
One area resident, Victor Jacob Marly, posted an open letter to state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, on the site.
Marly stated his property has been burglarized and he has witnessed car thefts in the area. Marly also says he is the son-in-law of the late Cecil "Rob" Carter, who was gunned down in his plumbing shop last winter.
"We are not getting much help from our law enforcement so now we are begging you to help us Mr. Smith." Marly wrote. "What can you do for us to rid us of this problem?"
Smith said in a phone interview that Marly "has raised a serious issue." He added that he plans to contact local law enforcement agencies to potentially schedule a public forum-style meeting to "address issues of public safety in Milton-Freewater."
"The best way to do that is to engage the public," Smith said, adding it will be important for community members to develop a relationship with recently sworn-in sheriff .