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Police: Murder of Oroville grandmother 'brutal' and 'disturbing'

Family members and police share new details into the murder investigation of a beloved 86-year-old grandmother in Oroville.

Posted: Mar 21, 2019 5:27 AM
Updated: May 3, 2019 5:28 PM

UPDATE 5/3/19: Oroville police have arrested a suspect for the murder of Greta Putnam. Learn more here. 

OROVILLE, Calif. - New information has been released on the murder investigation of 86-year-old grandmother Greta Putnam, of Oroville. Putnam was found dead on Nov. 8, 2018, inside her Cottonwood Estates mobile home by Oroville Police, the same day the Camp Fire began. 

Action News Now sat down with Putnam's grandsons, Donnie Rhodes and Ron Rhodes, and Detective Raymond Stott, the investigator on the case.

Detective Stott confirmed that Putnam was stabbed to death. A kitchen knife that matched other knives inside Putnam's home is believed to be the murder weapon. That evidence, along with other items gathered at the scene, is now in the hands of the Department of Justice for testing. Stott said he could not speak to how much evidence the department has been able to process, but that his team performs regular check-ins on progress. 

"We are actively pursuing leads and contacting potential witnesses, not necessarily to when [the murder] occurred but where people were and what they were doing at the time," Stott said.

It has now been four months since the Oroville Police Department discovered Putnam's body, and three months since Action News Now first began reporting on this story. Despite what the family believes to be a slow investigation, Stott said the department still considers this their top priority case.

"I understand [the family's] frustration and I am frustrated as well," Stott said. "It's a disturbing case and I'd like to get it solved."

Stott added that there is no statute of limitations on the case.

The Rhodes expressed frustration over the progress of the investigation but are appreciative of police work on the case.

"It’s sad," Donnie said. "I feel guilty that I’m not pushing harder to get justice."

The Rhodes described Greta Putnam as the "backbone" to the family.

"She was always there for us, picked up where other people couldn’t," Donnie said. "She just taught us how to work, taught us how to forgive, get over stuff, and to love."

The Rhodes spoke candidly to what they know about the murder scene. 

"I’m not afraid to say it. They cut her throat. She was in her bed," Donnie said.

"She was woken up, and she fought," Ron said. "I lose sleep at night [over this]. Did she know the person? Did she recognize them? How come nobody heard her scream?" 

"She's little, 90 pounds. [The murderer] was super aggressive," Donnie added. He said the killer covered Putnam back up with a sheet after the murder.

The family is asking the public for help to get the word out about the investigation and bring justice for their grandmother. The Rhodes say they are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that can lead to the suspect's arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call the Oroville Police Department at (530) 538-2448.

One of Greta Putnam's young relatives vanished around the same time as Putnam's murder. Plumas County Sheriff investigators are looking for 21-year-old Dominic Potts. Oroville police say they do not have information linking Potts to the crime but would like to know where he is.

To watch more from Action News Now's interview with Putnam's family members, see below: 

For more on what we learned from investigators and the family on Dominic Potts, please click here. 

For more on our prior reporting of Greta Putnam's murder investigation, click here. 

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