A woman who was convicted of helping kill a man in Roseburg in 1990 and sentenced to life in prison without parole has died at the Oregon Department of Corrections facility near Wilsonville.

Tamara Upton, 55, was convicted of aggravated murder in 1991 in a Douglas County Circuit Court. She and her girlfriend, Tracey Poirier were both sentenced to life without parole for the killing of 34-year-old Donald Fish of Vancouver, Washington, a portrait photographer, who was a dwarf who stood just over four feet tall.

Upton passed away at the infirmary while on hospice care for an undisclosed illness, at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility on Sunday morning, April 14. She had been in custody since Nov. 4, 1991.

The two women were featured on an Oxygen network program called “Killer Couples,” which documented how the two had stolen a car in Salem and met Fish in downtown Roseburg.

Testimony at the trial indicated Upton and Poirier played pool and had drinks with Fish at the Reston Red’s Tavern in Roseburg before they took him to the South Umpqua River by Elk Island just north of the Washington Street Bridge. The women killed Fish with a rock and took all of his money, then left his body in the dry riverbed.

Prosecutors at the district attorney’s office said Fish had traveler’s checks and cash stolen from him. Fish had been taking portraits at a local store in Roseburg for about two weeks when he was killed.

The women were captured a short time later in the stolen car.

After being sentenced and sent to prison for life, Poirier befriended a female prison guard, who helped her escape from the Salem women’s prison in 1998. Prison authorities think the guard, who had quit her job, cut a hole in the fence allowing Poirier to escape.

The women fled to the east coast, where they were captured about three weeks later in Providence, Rhode Island and eventually extradited back to Oregon.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

(1) comment


You just can't make this kinda stuff up! My neighbor was her defense attorney.

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