PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland, Oregon, man accused of killing two strangers who disappeared 20 years apart pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder charges. Cold case DNA evidence led authorities to Christopher Lovrien’s home, where police said they found the dismembered remains of the second victim.
Police arrested Lovrien, 53, in May after forensic genealogy linked him to the 1999 disappearance — and presumed death — of Mark Dribin, an airline cargo worker. Authorities searching a shed at Lovrien’s home several weeks after his arrest found the dismembered remains of another man, Kenneth Griffin, who had gone missing three months earlier.
Dribin’s body has not been found.
Lovrien faces two counts of second-degree murder, one count of abuse of a corpse and six counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Investigators believe the two victims were strangers to Lovrien and to each other.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office asked anyone with information about missing people who had been living under the Interstate 205 bridge in southeast Portland between the summer of 2019 and last May and had contact with Lovrien to call police.
Lovrien, a metal fabricator, was not homeless and did not live under the bridge, they said. Authorities declined to say why they were focused on the bridge and on that time period.
In a news conference Thursday, authorities said additional evidence, including statements from Lovrien, indicate there may be other victims, but they declined to provide more details.
Detectives recovered DNA evidence from an unknown suspect in Dribin’s home and car in 1999 but were unable to match it to anyone.
In 2019, cold case detectives submitted the DNA to a private, third-party company for forensic analysis and learned it could be connected to one of several brothers. Police narrowed that lead to Lovrien and obtained a search warrant for a DNA sample from him last year, said cold case lead investigator Brendan McGuire.
The results matched the sample obtained two decades before, he said, and marked a huge break in the case.
“Until he submitted the known DNA evidence … for genealogical analysis, at no time were police looking at Christopher Lovrien as a suspect,” said lead prosecutor Kirsten Snowden.
Dribin disappeared on July 2, 1999, after he called his employer, United Airlines, and asked for the night off for a “personal emergency.” Police who went to his home found that his car and other items were missing and found evidence that suggested he was dead, according to a synopsis of the case released by the Portland Police Bureau when it was still unsolved.
Griffin, who had been homeless but was living with roommates at the time he disappeared, went missing in February 2020, three months after police first interviewed Lovrien. McGuire said nothing suggests Griffin knew anything about the earlier murder.
Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.