Marian Bergeson was a Salt Lake City-born, Brigham Young University-educated mom who raised four children and taught school in Newport Beach before launching a long and storied career as a politician that included stints as a city councilwoman, school board trustee, state senator, assemblywoman, county supervisor and state Secretary of Education.
After becoming the first woman to serve in both California's Assembly and state Senate, the Republican returned to Orange County to join a Board of Supervisors reeling from the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. After a year, she returned to Sacramento for a bruising education-secretary tenure. Now 85 and retired, Bergeson would no doubt trade her darkest days as a politician with any during the past year and a half.
Her daughter, Nancy Bergeson, was murdered in Oregon in November 2009. With her golden retriever Bodie lying over her body, the 57-year-old federal public defender was found face down in the dining room of her Southwest Portland home. There were no signs of a struggle or break-in, leading investigators to originally assume she died of natural causes. An autopsy later determined she'd been strangled.
Marian Bergeson was just in Portland dedicating a nature trail to her slain daughter and offering a $6,000 reward for information leading to her killer.
Portland Police can use the assist. They've gone through her old cases looking for clues that may lead to a suspect. These includes criminals she's defended and police officers and federal prosecutors she's bested. Nothing. They are officially stumped.
"Who, why, how . . . all those things are just so elusive and have been now for over a year and a half," Bergeson reportedly told Anna Canzano of KATU News/Channel 2 while up north.
Investigators there have even come to Newport Beach to interview her daughter's former classmates, Bergeson disclosed. Nancy attended a high school reunion here three months before her murder.
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"She's so strong she would have resisted unless it was somebody she felt comfortable around, and you know, that means it had to be somebody she knew," Bergeson reportedly told Canzano.
Bergeson's other daughter, and Nancy's sister, Julie McCormick, believes the new reward, coupled with a $1,000 donation from Crime Stoppers and more than $5,000 given or pledged by people Nancy knew, could shake loose the elusive tip everyone seeks.
"Eventually this will be solved," McCormick reportedly said. "Someone will say something, people will talk, and sometimes when there's a fund, it's a bit of bait involved that will motivate them."
You can get a pledge form to help generate an even larger reward by emailing McCormick at email@example.com.