When police caught up with George Tschaggeny, they say he was wearing the wedding ring of a man fatally stabbed on a Portland train widely hailed as a hero for trying to aid two teen passengers.
That hero, Ricky Best, a 53-year-old Army veteran and father of four, will be buried Monday.
Tschaggeny, 53, will be arraigned on charges of second-degree theft, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in the second degree.
Policy say Tschaggeny, who is homeless, removed Best’s wedding ring from his finger as he lay dying.
“It’s completely heartless,” Sgt. Peter Simpson told the Oregonian. “There is no other way to describe what happened.”
Tschaggeny is also accused of stealing Best’s backpack. “Some items were missing, including a wallet with phone numbers of some of Best’s longtime friends,” police said in a statement.
Police say they were able to track down Tschaggeny beneath an overpass Friday after receiving a tip from “an alert Domino’s Pizza employee.” A day earlier, tips had come pouring in after police posted a surveillance video of the suspect, along with a plea for the public’s help in locating him.
Best, a Portland city employee, was on his way home when he and fellow passengers, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, intervened after a man began yelling slurs at the teens, one of whom wore a Muslim head covering. The man then turned his anger on them.
Meche was also fatally stabbed, while Fletcher was injured. Best was later pronounced dead at the scene.
After the stabbing on the train, Tschaggny took Best’s wedding ring and backpack, police said.
“It’s just unconscionable to do what he did,” the police spokesman told the Associated Press.
“Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said afterward in a statement. “Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”
Police later arrested Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, in connection with the killings. He appeared in court last week, but did not enter a plea.
Christian has a history of making bigoted comments online, local media reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center described him as a “known white supremacist.”
Best, a resident of Happy Valley, Ore., whose military service included time in Afghanistan and Iraq, retired from the Army in 2012 after 23 years. At the time of his death, he worked as a technician for Portland’s Bureau of Development Services.
“He was always cheery,” his oldest son, Erik Best, told KATU. “After serving in the military, he’d usually say, ‘Hey, I’m not getting shot at, why shouldn’t I smile?’”