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David Hebbert HART





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Hart was physically and mentally abused as a young child by his mother and his stepfather, Dwight Biggs
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 3, 1984
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1967
Victim profile: Dorothy Biggs, 49 (his mother)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Lincoln County, Oregon, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on January 21, 1985

The Eddyville Murder

Dorothy Biggs was a thoughtful, well liked resident of the tiny Lincoln County community of Eddyville. She ran the Little Elk Store for years, extending credit to customers who were short of ready cash. Children loved going shopping with their parents because they always knew Dorothy Biggs would put a little surprise in the shopping bag -- a small toy or a piece of candy.

The 49-year-old storekeeper was generous to a fault. When she wasn't busy running the store, Biggs worked as a registered nurse at the New Lincoln Hospital and Health Care Center in Toledo, 20 miles away. She gave everything she could give to the community, people said after her shocking murder Aug. 3, 1984. But she didn't have enough to give to her son.

On Aug. 4 -- one day after Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputies found Dorothy Bigg's strangled and beaten body --deputies arrested her 17-year-old son David Hebbert Hart at the Little Elk Store, in the same building which housed the family's second-floor residence and the scene of the brutal murder.

District Attorney Ulys Stapleton later said Dorothy Biggs was tortured before she was killed by her son, kicked down the stairs of their upstairs home, then beaten with fists and a baseball bat before being strangled. Homicide investigators found blood on David Hart's clothes which matched Dorothy Bigg's blood type as well as the baseball bat Hart used on his mother.

The day before the murder, David Hart went fishing for blueback in the Yaquina River, east of Toledo, with a friend, 17 year-old Laric Cook. Cook later told a reporter for The Oregonian newspaper that Hart was "the normal David telling jokes, happy as a clam." Cook said Hart did not discuss his mother and nothing seemed to be bothering him.

People who knew the two -- or at least, thought they knew them -- could not believe David Hart could do such a thing. They remembered him as a quiet, sometimes moody teenage boy who worked in the store with his mother and carried customers' groceries to their cars.

But there were dark sides to the personalities of both Dorothy Biggs and David Hart, much of which came out shortly after the murder and at Hart's subsequent murder trial the following January.

Some residents of the tiny town -population 30 -- who were really familiar with the mother-son relationship said Biggs and Hart squabbled frequently, in private. They said he kept a lot of his bitterness bottled up inside.

His school teachers and administrators at the 225-student Eddyville School said David Hart could have been a good student if only he had applied himself. Others said Hart wanted desperately to be treated like an adult, although he wasn't ready or willing to accept the responsibility of being an adult.

And one of the reasons for his troublesome, anti-social behavior, Stapleton would later say in court, was his mother. He introduced files from Oregon's Childrens Services Division during the trial which indicated Hart was physically and mentally abused as a young child by Dorothy Biggs and his stepfather, Dwight Biggs, when the family lived in Portland back in the 1970s.

Dwight Biggs was convicted in 1983 of fourth-degree assault after threatening Hart with a knife. And during the trial in Lincoln County Circuit Court, Hart's attorney, Thomas O. Branford, told jurors in his opening statements that he would present evidence showing that Dorothy Biggs offered Hart half the money from her insurance policy if he would burn down a vacant house on her property. Hart was later convicted of arson.

But Stapleton also offered evidence that Hart himself offered money to strangers to kill his mother.

During the six-day trial, family members testified that Dorothy Biggs, on the day of her murder, told Hart, "We'd all be better off if you Were dead."

After deliberating five hours, the jury returned a guilty verdict against David Hart on Jan. 21, 1985. Hart sat impassively as the verdict was read. He was subsequently sentenced to life by trial Judge A.R. McMullen.



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