Skip to main content

Cascadia Health is assessing safety as man charged with stabbing worker makes court appearance

The suspect has pleaded not guilty to the alleged murder that has left mental health workers shocked
The Multnomah County Courthouse on SW 1st Ave. in Portland, Ore. | STEVE MORGAN/CC BY-SA 4.0
July 18, 2023

This story has been updated with additional comment from Oregon AFSCME  and the Oregon Health Authority. 

A man charged with murdering a mental health worker at a Gresham mental health residential facility had his first appearance in Multnomah County Circuit Court Monday as some raise questions about employee safety. 

James Calvin Smith, 59, faces charges of murder in the second degree and unlawful use of a weapon for the alleged fatal stabbing of Haley Rogers while she worked a shift at McCarthy Place, a 10-bed group home operated by Cascadia Health in Gresham. 

Smith has pleaded not guilty, Liz Merah, Multnomah County District Attorney's Office spokesperson, confirmed to The Lund Report. 

Cascadia Health is a large Portland-based nonprofit that provides behavioral health and substance use treatment to Medicaid patients. The alleged stabbing comes as state officials seek to open more residential and other community-based mental health treatment settings. 

Derald Walker, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement Monday that the nonprofit would conduct its own safety assessment in light of the incident, and would cooperate with state and county authorities as they do their own reviews of the killing.

Rogers’ death has left the “whole mental health community in a state of shock and distress,” Walker wrote. He praised Cascadia’s staff, calling their work “tireless and traumatic, but essential to the fabric of our communities.”

“Cascadia’s immediate focus is supporting the employee’s family as they grieve their profound loss,” he said. “In addition, we have set up resources to ensure Cascadia staff, residents, and all clients have the necessary assistance they need to process this tragic event.”

Kevin Fitts, a longtime advocate for consumers of mental health services, told The Lund Report there are a lot of “unanswered questions at this point” about the alleged stabbing. Those include whether Cascadia’s staffing and safety protocols were sufficient, he said. 

Fitts worked in a secure residential facility from 1996 to 1998 and recalled a resident using martial arts to flip him to the ground. 

Walker said in the statement that Cascadia will “assess what happened to understand the circumstances surrounding this event and collaborate to ensure appropriate measures are taken to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

Oregon AFSCME, which represents Cascadia staff, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the alleged murder has placed a spotlight on the issue of safety at the mental health provider. The majority of Cascadia’s workers named safety as their primary concern when contract negotiations began in May, according to the statement. Workers have frequently raised concerns about scheduling just one staff person to oversee a facility, program or outing, as well as weapon risk protocols. 

“These are dangerous jobs, and our passion for the work, and clients we serve who have nowhere else to turn, does not change the fact that we need to feel safe at work,” Liz O’Connor, a mobile mental health associate at Cascadia and member of the bargaining committee, said in the statement. 

Cascadia spokesperson Stephanie Tripp responded with an email stating that the provider takes safety "very seriously." 

"The safety of our employees and clients is always a top priority," she said. "In addition, we are dedicated to fostering a culture of safety within our organization and will continue to do so."

The Oregon Health Authority issued a statement to The Lund Report expressing condolences to Rogers’ family, as well as staff, residents and others affected. The authority declined to comment further, citing the active police investigation. 

Deputy District Attorney Sean Hughey filed a probable cause affidavit Monday based on information from police describing the alleged incident. 

Gresham police responded to a call Sunday morning from McCarthy Place. An employee who arrived at 7 a.m. for their day shift made the call after finding Haley Rogers dead from what appeared to be stab wounds. 

The filing states that police found signs of a struggle in the facility’s common area and footprints that appeared to be in blood leading from Rogers’ body to Smith’s room. Other residents of the facility left their rooms when directed by police except for Smith. After police used a loudspeaker, Smith left the home and was arrested by police. 

A resident of the home told police he heard screaming and emerged from his room to see Rogers injured and on the floor. The resident further told police that he saw Smith holding a knife in his hands and standing over Rogers. 

Police, using a search warrant, found bloody clothing behind the door of Smith’s bedroom, according to the filing. An autopsy of Rogers found multiple stab wounds and concluded she died by homicide.

Cascadia supplied its previous statement in response to a request for additional comment from The Lund Report. 

The alleged murder has parallels to a 2012 incident in St. Helens that raised questions about the safety of behavioral health workers. Brent Redd stabbed Jennifer Warren, a mental health worker who arrived at his home to deliver an antipsychotic medication. 

Redd had been living semi-independently in St. Helens and holding down a job after previously being committed to the Oregon State Hospital for five years for trying to murder his mother. Court records show Redd was found guilty except for insanity and committed to the state hospital. 

Smith is represented by Metropolitan Public Defender, which did not respond to a request for comment. Court filings show that Smith had previously been convicted of decades-old charges of criminal trespass in the second degree and burglary in the first degree. 

Smith is currently being held in the Multnomah County jail. His next scheduled court appearance is July 25. 

You can reach Jake Thomas at [email protected] or via Twitter @jakethomas2009.


Submitted by Catherine Dynes on Tue, 07/25/2023 - 06:31 Permalink

The offender did stab the staffer as they worked ALONE without security support or protocols in place. hats the first  thing wrong with the scenario, Cascadia longstanding policy of nightshift staff working alone  with more that 5 clients..  The Offender was a client who lived at The McCarthy Cascadia NON SECURE residential facility. This client had been allowed to go off their meds for two weeks prior to the attack and had been destabilizing,according to Cascadia sources, .the administration was well aware of that and still put this young staffs life in jeopardy by making decisions that were UNSAFE. That's the second thing wrong that needs remedying.  This seems to be a pattern with Cascadia, its not the first time this happened..  . Also This client had an established history of targeting  attacking/stabbing females and had a history of violent lashing out behaviors.. This client had been placed in McCarthy as step down care, when he should've been placed in a SECURED facility.He had prior offenses of criminal  violence and predatory behavior..why was he in nonsecure residential care? That's the third thing wrong:  A Perfect Storm of Horrible outcomes.    Unfortunately its a pattern that's repeated often, placing volatile clients with high risk of repeat offending in MH residential  facilities . Thats part of the story. Why is this being allowed? Placing this violent  demographic in residential facilities that are non secure with little supervision care ,or follow up monitoring  is placing not only other clients with MH needs at risk but staff and the broader community at risk. This demographic has a higher rate of recidivism because they aren't just  dealing with mental health attendant symptoms, they have brain disorders, common to people with homicidal traits and dysregulation.   .  The offender has pled Not Guilty. He was initially sentenced to 1st degree murder but it was changed to second degree. The callous Murder of this young woman merits a 1st degree charge . Haley  Rogers, the victim didn't deserve to die in such a brutal horrendous manner. The savagery of the attack is beyond the pale,  so I've been informed by Cascadia sources,..   repeat offenders s like this should be in secured facilities with proper supervision at all times or incarcerated with proper diagnosis and care. .  .not in MH residential non secure facilities.