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Robert Fort, Deschutes County Killer, Dies at Two Rivers Correctional Institution

01 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Robert Fort, sentenced to life in 1991 for the 1989 rape and murder of a Bend woman, died in Two Rivers Correctional Institution.

Robert Fort, Deschutes County Killer, Dies at Two Rivers Correctional Institution - Inmate Lookup

The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) confirmed on Thursday that Robert Fort, a murderer from Deschutes County who chose a life sentence over a death penalty trial for the 1989 rape, robbery, and killing of a Bend woman, passed away on Wednesday evening at Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) in Umatilla.

The agency informed the Oregon State Police of Fort’s death, and the State Medical Examiner will determine the cause. Fort, 63, entered DOC custody on Feb. 5, 1991, with a life sentence from Deschutes County.

In 2021, Joshua Marquis, a former prosecutor for Deschutes County and subsequently the district attorney for Clatsop County, provided an account of the Fort case in a guest column titled “Race and Justice in Deschutes County.”

Marquis highlighted Fort’s arrest in the November 1989 killing of Lynn Oliverio. Fort was accused of robbing, raping, and murdering her before fleeing on a train. Marquis emphasized that good police work led to Fort’s capture in the Midwest, where he was brought back to Bend for trial.

In addition, Marquis detailed that the nature of the crime and Fort’s record made him a strong candidate for the death penalty, which was recently reinstated in Oregon. However, then-DA Mike Dugan deferred the decision to Marquis, who offered Fort a life sentence to avoid the death penalty and a trial he believed would have an all-white jury.

Deschutes County DA Steve Gunnels revealed that the case resurfaced last year when Robert Fort challenged his guilt and requested DNA testing on evidence. Gunnels confirmed Fort’s DNA was identified on the victim’s clothing, emphasizing that Lynn Oliverio was a stranger to him.

During the announcement of Fort’s death, the Oregon DOC emphasized its serious approach to all in-custody deaths and its responsibility for the care of approximately 12,000 incarcerated individuals across the state. Crime information is public information, but the Oregon Department of Corrections chooses to share it only upon request, with consideration for family and victims.

About 1,800 adult inmates are housed at Umatilla’s TRCI multi-custody prison, which first opened its doors in 2000. Along with Oregon Corrections Enterprises, TRCI is involved in the prison industries, which include sewing, mattress manufacture, and institutional and industrial laundry.

Additional job activities offered by the institution include upkeep of nearby baseball fields, repair and cleaning of irrigation ditches, and collaboration with neighboring municipalities and the Hermiston School District. The facility offers education, mental health, and religious services, in addition to a variety of correctional programs and services.