A boy killed during a kidnapping, a stolen identity and an enigmatic man.
Oregon's latest mystery isn't a whodunit — 3-year-old Jason Evers' killer is in jail. Instead, investigators and Jason's family are puzzling over the true identity of a man they say usurped the boy's name more than a dozen years ago, even using it to pass a police background check and get a state job.
The man is sitting behind bars, refusing to reveal his identity to a federal judge as he awaits a court hearing.
His fingerprints are not on file, and authorities say they don't know of any old friends or home videos. There's nothing of substance that's surfaced since his arrest in Idaho last month by federal agents who charged him with making a false statement on a passport application.
"He could be a good guy and it's just a misunderstanding," Amy Evers says. "But there has to be a reason why he has my brother's birth certificate."
All that's known for sure is the man who called himself Jason Robert Evers since at least 1996 is 5-foot-11, is in his 30s, has blue eyes, keeps his brown hair nearly shaved, was a liquor investigator and volunteer state advisory committee member, and doesn't talk about his past.
"Everyone here is just as shocked as the rest of the world is," says Christie Scott, spokeswoman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. "There were no indicators he was not who he said he was."
He worked as an OLCC investigator since 2002 and his former co-workers say he compiled a respected enforcement record before his arrest and ensuing resignation. The commission and the state police say background checks generally screen only for criminal history and rely on fingerprints.
'Our most engaged member'
The man was also able to serve on an advisory committee for the state Public Employees Retirement System board.
"He was our most engaged member," said Gay Lynn Bath, the state deferred compensation manager, noting he was not involved in any investment decisions or given any access to confidential information as a member of an advisory committee.
His public defender, Susan Russell, said at a hearing in federal court in Portland that he moved from Colorado to Oregon to be close to a surrogate grandmother, and ended up finding the OLCC job and making friends in the Bend area and in Nyssa on the Idaho border.
Connections to Colorado are hard to find.
A woman who recently bought a house in Denver where the man claiming to be Jason Evers had lived more than a decade ago got a knock on her door from federal agents just before a call from The Associated Press.
All she could offer was that she guessed the man had rented the basement from the elderly couple who had owned it.
Despite the limited public information about his background, authorities are piecing together a character sketch.
They say he may be from New Jersey or Washington, D.C., sporting an East Coast accent and able to speak "street type" Spanish. He may have grown up in a foster home and was a master chess player. His mother is likely dead and his father may be in prison.
But they haven't said in a U.S. State Department bulletin exactly how they were able to arrive at the profile.
Evers and the boy's father, Bob, have been following the case closely from their home in Ohio, where the real Jason Robert Evers was kidnapped and killed in 1982. They were preparing to attend a June 2 parole hearing for Adrian Williams, who was sentenced to a maximum of 50 years in Jason's death.
'Definitely not my son'
The appearance of a man police say is an impostor just before that Ohio hearing has deeply troubled both father and daughter.
"He's definitely not my son," Evers said in an interview from his Ohio home. "And I don't need somebody living my son's life."
For Amy Evers, like her father, the pain has never really gone away. But she also tries to deal with the feelings that only a big sister can suffer when she was the one looking out for her little brother, and the last to see him that summer of 1982.
"I hope he is a good guy, and he didn't do anything bad. But my brother is gone," she says. "All that was left of him was bones. And the fact that my brother didn't even have a chance to really live makes me really mad."
Federal agents say they discovered the man as part of a program the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service started in 2005 to expose impostors by checking state death records.
Now, like police and prosecutors, Amy Evers has lots of questions for the anonymous man.
She wonders how he could have gotten her brother's Social Security number and then a birth certificate in his name in 1996, if he was only a teenager himself then, and why he would suddenly walk away from his own life.
Evers asks if he could have grown up in the same Cincinnati neighborhood as her family, or whether he grew up somewhere else and just picked her brother's name at random. She's angry with him, she says, but mainly wants to know his reasons.
"What was always in the back of my head was, what did this guy do in the first place to want to change his name?"