PO Box 542
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
New details have emerged in the murder investigation into the death of Marcos Gutierrez of Milton-Freewater. Rise Media’s investigative team has uncovered these details, in our ongoing investigation, into what happened leading up to the discovery of Gutierrez’s burned corpse the night of May 22, 2017. In these new developments, posted to Facebook and obtained by our investigative team, Jeremy Kraft outlines his explanation of what happened to Gutierrez. Kraft also claims to be a witness on behalf of the State of Oregon to a grand jury in the arraignment of Conor Dayton on the recent murder charges lodged against him.
Kraft has maintained his innocence in the murder of Gutierrez, despite the changes in his story. He says he was fearful for his own safety and concerned that Dayton may attempt to murder him which is why he intentionally mislead authorities and the public about what happened. Those notions have been challenged by others, for example, a convenience store clerk who said she had seen Kraft and Dayton come in to buy beer weeks after Gutierrez’s body was discovered. “You did not seem at all scared when you would come in regularly to buy beer,” the clerk commented on social media.
Despite this, Kraft maintains he did not play a role in the murder of Gutierrez and some of his friends have called the attention on Kraft’s inconsistencies “a media bias.” Given the nature of the investigation and at least one previous attempt by law enforcement to close the case, citing “no foul play,” we feel it’s newsworthy and appropriate to provide these details to the public. The public bears the burden of holding law enforcement and the district attorney accountable for seeking the truth. That can only happen when facts are available.
In this report, we will take a look at the evolution of Kraft’s statements on the death of Guiterrez and how that could play a key role in the prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Gutierrez. This report is lengthy, but necessary, to understand the dynamic of the investigation and those involved.
CONTENT WARNING: This report may contain extremely graphic details that may be offensive or too graphic for some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.
In our reporting on July 12th, we introduced you to Jeremy Kraft. Kraft is the 40-something-year-old family friend of murder suspect Conor Dayton. Kraft told us in July that Dayton has lived with him for at least five years. The two were involved in a relationship and a living arrangement, off and on, according to Kraft.
When Guiterrez’s body was discovered badly burned beneath a bridge in Milton-Freewater on May 22nd, rumors began circulating surrounding the involvement of Dayton and Kraft. To date, we have spoken with nearly a dozen individuals that have provided us with first-hand knowledge of Dayton and Kraft. These individuals range from former classmates and family friends to individuals who say they regularly hung out with Kraft & Dayton to use drugs and “party.”
We recently discovered that Kraft operated a Facebook group, “Dysfunction is our function” where he made his first public remarks on the death of Gutierrez. In those remarks, Kraft denied knowledge of details surrounding Gutierrez’s murder and appears to provide an alibi for Dayton. Later, Kraft found out we were asking questions and contacted us on July 11th to “set the record straight.” In that interview, which occurred after Dayton was arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse, Kraft told a slightly different story.
On August 6th, Kraft went back to his Facebook group to provide a third explanation of the events. In that explanation, he placed himself, Dayton and another unnamed individual at the scene where Gutierrez’s body was discovered. In those gruesome details, Kraft blames Dayton for Gutierrez’s death and says he was scared for his life. The following day, Kraft posted on his own Facebook wall that officials had asked him to serve as a witness against Dayton before a grand jury.
Kraft apparently operated a Facebook group, “Dysfunction is our function,” for at least five years. The group of around 75 members contained a variety of abstract and lewd posts — from inappropriate jokes to dark humor. Kraft administered the group with two different Facebook accounts — one bearing his name and another bearing the pseudonym Jason Miller.
The pseudonym is explained in a 2012 post where Kraft tells a friend that he was forced to create the alternate ego as a result of Facebook suspending his regular account for posting inappropriate “Jew jokes” and “a cookie monster joke.” Another friend, apparently joking, asks Kraft if Facebook blocked him for “lame dead baby jokes.” This is the sort of lewd and abstract posts our team found consistent with Kraft’s social media presence. Kraft claims to be a fan of “horror films” and other fictional gore.
Rise Media obtained screenshots of Kraft’s posts in this Facebook group from an anonymous source who posted them to a public image sharing service. We followed up with sources close to Kraft who helped us verify the screenshots were authentic and accurate. Within hours of obtaining the screenshots, two additional sources came forward with the same details. They asked to be unnamed citing concerns for their personal safety.
Kraft posted his first explanation of events surrounding the death of Gutierrez in his Facebook group “Dysfunction is our function” on May 26, 2017 at 11:07 pm:
I haven’t been on here all week because I’m terrified. I’m sure you guys have all heard about the body found burnt under the bridge (like farting distance from my house) right? Yeah, that’s why I haven’t been on here. Let me give you the run down:
Sunday around 10pm or so we get the brother and mother of Marcos showing up asking if we have seen him. They tell us he’s been missing for 24 hours at this point. I tell them he and I don’t get along, and that they are wasting their time looking for him here. In my mind I thought I was doing them a favor, I figured he was all doped up and didn’t want to come home like that. (Yeah, don’t believe all the bullshit people are saying about how much of a fucking saint that piece of shit was.The day I decided that I was done with him was when he came to me asking if I knew how to get roofies ’cause there was a cute boy he worked with that he’s share with me if I could. Piece of shit.) I told them the last time I saw him he was in the camper on my property and I told him to leave and never come back. Fast forward to the next morning (Sunday). I leave for work to find that Eastside rd is blocked all the way up to my road and I have to take the back roads to work. I’m thinking, “Hey, maybe the are finally widening the bridge, or maybe they are getting rid of the hard shoulders on the road?” I get to work to find out that they found a body. Later I get a message from Adam’s girlfriend telling me the body was actually Marcos. The same piece of shit who’s family I just told I didn’t like. So suddenly I’m a suspect for murder. I start having to talk to sheriffs and detectives. They took photos, recorded interviews, etc. All the while the family is spreading rumors that it was a jealous love triangle between me, Conor, and Marcos. Conor gets jumped by some guys with a knife that he says he barely fought for his life and got away. We had someone slowly drive by the house threatening that we “need to watch our back”. My dad makes jokes about it while I’m damn near breaking down in tears. I haven’t had shit for sleep in a week, and my mother doesn’t seem to have an ounce of compassion telling me “Well, I don’t hang out with people like that so I can’t relate.” when I call her terrified and just needed my mom.
I feel unsafe, alone, and very scared.
I just wish I had any clue that he was going to end up dead and I wouldn’t have said a fucking thing about how we didn’t get along. I was even polite about it, but it didn’t make a difference. I’m not looking for sympathy or feedback. I just needed to get this off my chest because it’s crushing me.
In late June and early July, our team began interviewing individuals with personal, first-hand knowledge of Gutierrez, Dayton, Kraft and other yet unnamed individuals. On July 11th, Kraft found out our team was asking around and reached out to us. Below is a transcript of our complete interview with Kraft:
JEREMY KRAFT: I hear your being fed some serious allegations about me. I had/have no jealousy over Conor. I had been trying to get him out of my house for months. I would have been thrilled I’d marcos took him! I made the mistake of telling Marcos’ brother that he and I did not get along the night before his body was found when they came by looking for him. I told them the last time I had seen him was a week prior when I found him in my camper and told him to stay the hell off of my property. Why don’t I like him? He asked me if I could get roofies and if so he’d share some cute boy that worked at Dairy Queen with me. I told him I had no idea how or where to get them because I’m not a rapist. I hadn’t heard from him again until me and conor got together and he asked if I would send him nudes of conor. When I didn’t comply he started telling people I’m a pedophile. (Most likely due to the age difference in conor and myself). I would have gone to the police if he was on my property again for trespassing, I’m not a killer, nor would I move a body. I couldn’t imagine doing any of the lies being spread, and it hurts that people might think this.
RISE MEDIA JOURNALIST: Hi Jeremy, thanks for reaching out to me. I must first disclose to you that I am a member of the media and am actively working on a story involving the death of Marcos Gutierrez and the recent arrest of Conor Dayton. Anything you say to me, may be used in our reporting (unless we both agree in advance to anonymity).
I see that we have a number of mutual friends (and know many more of the same people beyond that). I reached out to one friend to ask if he knew you and how. He quickly said he didn’t believe the things told to us.
Having said that, are you willing to answer some questions (on or off the record) concerning your connection with Conor and/or Marcos?
RISE MEDIA: Can you provide some insight to us how you became connected with Conor?
KRAFT: I’ve known him for about 14 years. I was friends with his parents.
RISE MEDIA: Do you have any knowledge of abuse, neglect or abandonment by his parents?
KRAFT: Yes. I didn’t know about it until the boys were old enough to move out. Apparently it was very abusive.
RISE MEDIA: We had learned that Conor came to live with you when he was around 16 years old, is this correct?
KRAFT: No. He was 19
RISE MEDIA: So five years ago he came to live with you?
KRAFT: Yes, right around there.
RISE MEDIA: Was that the result of a relationship (you two were dating) or was he just someone you were helping out because you knew the family?
KRAFT: It was to help him. We didn’t have a relationship until last year, and it didn’t last long.
RISE MEDIA: Thank you for clarifying that. How did you meet Marcos?
KRAFT: Through Conor
RISE MEDIA: Were you aware that Conor and Marcos’ mom work together in the fields?
KRAFT: Yes I was
RISE MEDIA: Did Conor, to your knowledge, ever live with Marcos?
KRAFT: Yes he did
RISE MEDIA: Any idea why they no longer lived together?
KRAFT: Not fully sure. At least a few months, possibly longer. Conor only lived with me when he had nowhere else to go
RISE MEDIA: Okay cool, were they dating during that time or just friends? Do you know?
KRAFT: Just friends
RISE MEDIA: We had heard that Marcos’ mom had kicked Conor out when she discovered that Marcos and Conor were having sex together. Do you know anything about that?
KRAFT: No, that’s news to me. Doesn’t surprise me though
RISE MEDIA: Are you aware of any conflict between Marcos and Conor?
KRAFT: No, I know marcos was obsessed with him, but conor would go play smash bros with him often
RISE MEDIA: Where were you May 19-22nd? Basically the weekend Marcos was missing and subsequently found dead.
KRAFT: At home
RISE MEDIA: Was Conor with you during that time?
KRAFT: Most of the time, he came and went as he pleased
RISE MEDIA: You said five years ago he moved in with you.. essentially because he had no where else to go. How many times over those five years did Conor “come and go?”
KRAFT: Hard to say
RISE MEDIA: Did he ever move out for short times to live with others.. and then move back? Like what would be your best judgement.. handful.. a dozen.. ?
KRAFT: Yes, um. I don’t know, I can think of about four times he lived elsewhere
RISE MEDIA: Were these spurred by conflict with you or just his nature of being transient?
KRAFT: Mostly me telling him to get a job and pay rent, so he’d just find someone else to mooch off of
RISE MEDIA: Ah okay, thank you! We’ve heard from about half a dozen folks who have told us that Marcos and Conor would “shoot up ketamine” and use acid/LSD. Are you aware of any drug use (legal or otherwise)?
KRAFT: I didn’t know about those, but I knew they did meth together
RISE MEDIA: Did they smoke or snort? And how often would you say they used together or apart?
KRAFT: I think both, and I don’t know how often. Conor would lie about things like that because he knew it would upset me.
RISE MEDIA: Understood. While you and Conor were together in a relationship, how were things? What ultimately lead to the end of the relationship?
KRAFT: We didn’t have sex much at all, and both agreed it was for the best we didn’t date. Found out later he only did it because i wasn’t going to let him move back in. Conor used me, often.
RISE MEDIA: So you’re suggesting that Conor would tell you whatever you wanted to hear, as long as he benefited from it?
RISE MEDIA: In 2015, public records show that Conor was arrested and charged with shoplifting in Milton-Freewater at Safeway. Are you aware at all of this incident (even indirectly)?
KRAFT: Yeah, he apparently stole a watermelon and was caught on camera
RISE MEDIA: That’s what we have learned. Police recently arrested him for shoplifting at Sam’s Corner Mart (a $1 drink) and also with a warrant from the 2015 incident. During his arrest in 2015, do you know what the outcome was with the courts? Was he placed on probation? Any idea why he would still have an outstanding warrant for that?
KRAFT: He failed to keep court dates was my understanding, but as i said, Conor lies so that’s all i know
RISE MEDIA: When was the last time you remember seeing Marcos Gutierrez before his body was discovered?
KRAFT: A week prior
RISE MEDIA: Where did you see him then?
KRAFT: He and conor were in my camper playing Nintendo
RISE MEDIA: How often would Marcos come visit Conor?
KRAFT: To answer your last question, probably more than I’m aware. I work 10+ hours every day with only Saturday off. Conor confessed that he sold Marcos meth at my house a few times. And to me knowing how much he lies, probably a lot.
RISE MEDIA: Have you been questioned by law enforcement?
KRAFT: Yes, the night after they discovered the body
RISE MEDIA: I believe we were told that they questioned you at length — maybe for about 8 hours. Is this true?
KRAFT: LOL! Man people like to twist things around. No, they were here for maybe an hour tops. They took photos of me, recorded the conversation as well.
RISE MEDIA: Thanks for clarifying that.
KRAFT: They asked me why I didn’t like Marcos. I told them because he was a very dark person. I left it at that because I didn’t want the family to know he asked me to get him roofies.
RISE MEDIA: Totally understand. Following Marcos’ death, Conor disappeared for a while. Any idea where he was? He apparently reappeared about two weeks ago.
KRAFT: Idaho to visit a friend. Twin Falls I believe
RISE MEDIA: Do you have any idea (directly or indirectly) how Marcos died?
KRAFT: I thought he probably OD’d and had a fire built.
RISE MEDIA: What would be your best guess on what he OD’d on?
RISE MEDIA: Did you see or hear from Conor the evening of Marcos’ death and the morning his body was discovered by fire fighters?
KRAFT: Yeah, he and a mutual friend were hanging out at my house watching movies, drinking, and listening to music.
RISE MEDIA: Can you provide the name of the mutual friend and do you know if that individual has been questioned by police?
KRAFT: The sheriff’s know who it is, I’m not going to drag someone else into this shithole. Sorry.
RISE MEDIA: Thank you. Do you know where Conor and this individual was at between the hours of 9pm and 2am? The night of Marcos death?
KRAFT: Up until about midnight. I work Sunday mornings and passed out around that time.
RISE MEDIA: Has Conor ever admitted to you that he killed Marcos or that he moved his body?
KRAFT: He seemed just as shocked as I was when I found out. I went to work that morning and saw Eastside was closed all the way to my road. I had to take the back roads to work, I (hoped) they were widening the bridge. I later learned the truth.
RISE MEDIA: What were your thoughts when you learned it was Marcos?
KRAFT: I thought he OD’d. Or found someone online to have some rough sex with and it went too far, OR he hit on the wrong guy. So many thoughts.
RISE MEDIA: Also, can you clarify if Conor, the other friend and/or yourself were using any drugs the night of Marcos death? Some have suggested that Conor admitted to using psychedelics that that. This is not necessarily anything we would publish, but just provides clarity of the overall picture.
KRAFT: I didn’t, but I think Conor might have been on shrooms or something. I don’t do drugs when I work the next day, that I can tell you now if you have more drug questions. I also don’t do them hardly ever, including pot.
RISE MEDIA: Thank you for clarifying.
KRAFT: I’ll just toss this out to you: Conor hasn’t been welcome on my property for about a month or so now. He was living with a mutual friend, and would come stay a night here and there until I caught him stealing from me. He then (then night he was arrested) was kicked out of THAT place for the same thing. He’ a liar, user, and stabs anyone and everyone in the back. Do I think he did this? Maybe. Do I know why? No. I just know he’s a snake.
RISE MEDIA: We have heard this repeatedly from several folks who have mentioned his name. It seems the police know more about him than many of us. They describe him as a transient with drug problems.
KRAFT: He seems so charming too. He used to be such a smart, sweet, polite kid. I think I held onto that for too long. I thought maybe that wonderful person would come back.
RISE MEDIA: One other question, did you buy any beer the night of Marcos death?
KRAFT: Pretty sure it was Vodka
— The next day —
RISE MEDIA: Just a heads up… these details just emerged: “Conor Dayton admitted that he had burned the body of Marcos Gutierrez Rodriguez, but he denied killing him. He said that he had met Marcos under the bridge and they had planned to do drugs and have sex. He claimed that Marcos produced a syringe loaded with methamphetamine, which Conor said he wanted no part of. He claimed that he left at that time and returned home. “Conor said the next day he learned that Marcos had never gone home, so he went back to the bridge and found Marcos sleeping. He said he woke Marcos and told him that his family was looking for him. He said Marcos told him that he had used too much methamphetamine the previous night and was too high to go home. Conor said he told Marcos he would keep his location a secret and would pretend to help the family look for him. “Conor said that night he learned that Marcos still had not returned home. He said he went back to the bridge and found Marcos deceased. He claimed he rolled Marcos over and found a syringe in his arm. He also claimed that Marcos smelled dead, his face was purple and his body was cool to the touch. He said he checked for a pulse and was unable to find any. “Conor said he did not want Marcos’ family to know that he had died as a result of overdosing on drugs, so he decided to destroy the evidence. He said he stole a can of gasoline from a neighboring residence, poured the gasoline around the body, and lit it on fire. He said he then threw the gasoline can on the body, which caused a large explosion.”
KRAFT: That’s what he said. It’s not true though. The truth is going to come out very soon. Sheriffs are all investigating.
Kraft made his third public statement concerning the death of Gutierrez in his Facebook group “Dysfunction is our function” on the evening of August 6th.
So I’m sure you guys must know a bit about what’s going on now. Here’s what you might not know:
Last May Conor decided he was going to kill Marcos. I didn’t fully belive him until he and (someone else) woke me up telling me he did it. They explained that he told Marcos they were going to have rough sex under the bridge. He got behind Marcos doggy style and put a belt around his neck that Marcos wasn’t aware was modified with an extra hole that would allow him to cinch down to strangle him. He put a foot on his back, yanked the belt and secured it. I guess a little later he started to seize so Conor stuck a knife in his head. He then covered his body with trash and boards he found in the area and poured bleach over everything. I’m still not fully believing this is real. The next day Conor, myself, and a mutual friend are drinking and listening to music when Marcos’ brother and mother come by looking for him. I start thinking “fuck, this might be real.” I tell them the truth about not seeing him since a week ago. Conor starts freaking out and telling me and mutual friend that if we don’t go with him to burn the body then we aren’t real friends. I’m fucking terrified at this point. I mean, what if mutual friend and I are next? So reluctantly we go with him. Conor asks if I want to see the body. I step back shaking my head saying no. He says, “but you’re the horror film buff.” I say, “yeah, films.” And walk over where mutual friend is asking him what the fuck we are going to do, when Conor lights the gas he just poured over the body. There was a loud explosion and i shot out of there like a cat. I was deathly afraid of conor now, and was scared he would talk his way out of arrest and come after me. Once he was in jail I spilled my guts out to the sheriffs and detectives.
Now you know more than most.
Kraft cites a fear of his personal safety for the reason he has provided two slightly different and one grossly different accounts of the events leading up to the discovery of Gutierrez’s body. Here we will take a look at a few of these inconsistencies and anomalies:
Kraft in his initial statement and in our interview gives the impression he had no knowledge of why or how Gutierrez died. He points toward drugs or sex as a possible explanation. In his third statement, Kraft alleges that Dayton was planning to murder Gutierrez — an admission that he knew about the potential murder before it even happened.
In his statement on August 6th, Kraft admits that not only did he know that Dayton allegedly was planning to murder Gutierrez but that Dayton and a friend had told him previously that the murder had already happened. Despite this, Kraft looked Gutierrez’s family in the face and told them he had no knowledge of where he could be. Not only did he know, he knew the full details of what he says Dayton did to Gutierrez.
About two hours later, his most recent statement put him at the scene of where Gutierrez’s body was doused in gasoline and caught on fire. Given that Kraft has now admitted to knowing about the planning of the murder and the details of the murder, why would he make a statement to Gutierrez’s family about not getting along with him — knowing that Gutierrez was already dead?
Kraft says he made inconsistent statements because he was afraid that Dayton would kill him next. Despite members of the public seeing Kraft and Dayton in public (both together and separate) and their statements that neither looked scared of the other, why would Kraft make such a statement knowing all along that Gutierrez was brutally murdered and had his body burned to conceal evidence. This is not consistent with someone who “hurts for Marcos’ mother and family,” as Kraft has said publicly. These statements appear to be incendiary and inflammatory about a victim unable to defend themselves. They are inconsistent with acceptable societal norms in talking about the dead.
Once again, Kraft engages in character assassination of Gutierrez to the media knowing the details, which he did not admit, until August 6th. He knew that, if his most recent statement is accurate, Gutierrez had been setup, brutally murdered and those responsible attempted to disguise evidence by burning his body. Knowing this, why would Kraft make comments to attempt to impugn the reputation or character of Gutierrez? What motive does one have to make grossly false and misleading character assaults on a dead person that they know was brutally murdered? How would this ensure his safety, given that is his reason for making false statements?
Kraft admits that investigators spoke with him the evening of May 22nd, after Gutierrez’s body had been discovered beneath the bridge. In that interview, Kraft repeated many of the things that he had said in his post on Facebook and in his interview with Rise Media. During his interview with Rise Media, Dayton was already in jail. He had no concern for his safety at that point, as the threat was behind bars. Even then he continued the misleading narrative that impugned Gutierrez, knowing that his words could be printed and visible to those who were close to Gutierrez.
Kraft pointed to drug use in both his first Facebook post and in his interview with Rise Media, to explain Gutierrez’s death. At that time, details concerning the toxicology report had not yet been released by the Oregon State Crime Lab. Those details were not released until the media obtained court documents that mentioned it. Some of the folks we interviewed mentioned Dayton and Gutierrez’s occasional use of psychoactive drugs like mushrooms and LSD. That use was classified more as “experimental” as both had creative minds. Kraft was the only source that mentioned methamphetamine to us.
After toxicology reports pointed to “extremely high levels” of meth in Gutierrez’s system, Kraft’s revised statement does not even mention this key piece of evidence. Kraft provides insignificant details, like the alleged sexual position between Dayton and Gutierrez, but excludes mention of one of the largest pieces of evidence: the excessive drug level detected in Gutierrez’s remains.
The one consistent thing across all three statements is Kraft’s desire to speak negatively of Gutierrez and cast him in a negative perspective. This obviously feeds the ongoing rumor-mill of close associates of Kraft, Dayton and Gutierrez which claims that Kraft was jealous of Dayton and Gutierrez’s friendship. Kraft, in his defense, has referred to himself as a coward for how he handled himself during the events leading up to and following Gutierrez’s murder. But, he maintains his innocence, insisting that he would never harm anyone.
This is very much an active and on-going investigation. Kraft has not been specifically named by authorities as a suspect or person of interest. We reached out to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office to inquire if that status had changed. Undersheriff Jim Littlefield directed us to District Attorney Dan Primus. Mr. Primus has not yet responded to our inquiries concerning the case.
If Kraft’s statements are true concerning his testimony before the grand jury, this may signal the district attorney’s desire to use him as a state witness against Dayton, should they be successful in obtaining an indictment for murder. Given the fluctuation in Kraft’s statements, it is possible this could create a compromise in the prosecution of Dayton or others involved.
Often, witnesses will be granted immunity or other bargains, in exchange for their cooperation with the prosecutor. We have not obtained any credible evidence to suggest such an offer has been extended to Kraft. Kraft has previously, in Facebook comments, denied such offers have been extended to him.
We will continue to monitor developments in the case and bring you updates when we have those available.
EDITORIAL NOTE: We would like to remind our readers that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Our reporting is being provided as this case is of great public interest and to enable the public to hold law enforcement and court personnel responsible for conducting a thorough and complete investigation. Rise Media condemns, in the strongest possible form, violence or the threat of violence against anyone. The details of this investigation may change, as new evidence becomes available.
Rise Media is an progressive-grassroots news organization providing free & original local news, politics and lifestyle content for the Walla Walla Valley by utilizing social media and technology to connect our community.