Investigation Discovery’s ‘Shattered: The Pact’ follows the disappearance of 16-year-old Walter Ackerson, Jr. from Yachats, Oregon, in March 1990. It took nearly 2 decades for the crime to get solved courtesy of his resilient mother, Karen Hull. The episode follows the lengthy investigation process and finally how the perpetrators were convicted 20 years later. If you are intrigued and want to know the identity and current whereabouts of the perpetrators, we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Walter Ackerson Jr. Die?
Walter Thomas Ackerson, Jr. was born on July 6, 1973, in Kettle Falls in Stevens County, Washington. He and his mother, Karen Hull shifted from the small town of Kettle Falls to Puyallup, Washington, in a bid to escape from an abusive relationship. But Walter couldn’t accommodate this sudden move to a significantly larger school district as he started getting picked up on and bullied in school by other children. Karen said, “He was small, and he was struggling with the other kids picking on him. A lot of bullying that back then, just wasn’t addressed like it is today.
Walter despised going to school and Karen stumbled upon a solution – the Oregon Job Corps – and he shared her enthusiasm initially. Karen reminisced, “It appeared to be a really great opportunity. He thought he was going to be able to get his education and move on and do something with it.” In March 1990, Walter moved to Yachats, Oregon, to join the Angell Federal Job Corps Center which was 200 miles away from Puyallup. He was finally able to advance his education under strict supervision and even get his GED, choosing culinary arts as his preferred career path.
For the first two weeks, Walter remained in regular contact with Karen and his grandmother, Delores, until it suddenly stopped in the last weeks of March 1990. On April 5, 1990, an administrator from Walter’s institution called Karen to inform her that her son had been missing since March 24. She said, “They told me my son ran away to Wyoming with another boy, and I asked them to file a missing person’s report and they asked me why? I said because he is 16.” Little did she know that her son had disappeared forever and would take nearly 2 decades for the mystery to be finally solved.
Who Killed Walter Ackerson Jr.?
Karen Hull went over to Yachats, Oregon, after learning that no missing person report had been filed even after two weeks of the call. She was initially informed that Walter had run away with all his belongings, but she found them in his room. The staff then informed her that Walter allegedly had gone drinking with 3 boys, hitchhiking to Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon, on March 24, 1990, but he never returned. Karen also met with the 3 boys – then 20-year-old Troy August Culver, 19-year-old Eric Forsgren, and 19-year-old Geoff Calligan.
All 3 of them had the same story they had snuck out of the campus to go drinking on the beach but they got separated from Walter and never saw him again. However, Karen claims that Troy had apologized to her and said he felt responsible, something Karen couldn’t understand. She said, “I told him he didn’t have anything to be sorry about if my son was drinking and ran away.” But she had a nagging suspicion that was further cemented by a fellow student of Walter named Emma Beller.
Emma told Karen that there were rumors that Troy and Walter had had a fight that culminated in the 3 boys beating her son up and shoving him, barely alive, off Newport’s Yaquina Bay Bridge. The alleged place of crime was 10 stories above the Pacific Ocean. However, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department believed the story put up by the 3 boys and dismissed the case as that of a runaway teen. Angell Federal Job Corps Center was rife with reports of boys fleeing the campus and the police marked Walter’s case to be the same. They never even followed up on Emma’s version of events.
The case went cold and was briefly reopened in 1996 but again went cold till it was handed to a new generation of investigators in 2004. The investigators interviewed Geoff and Eric again, with the latter being in Multnomah County Jail at that time for some unrelated charges. Both the men reiterated the same version of events and Emma couldn’t even recollect the incident, but the investigators got suspicious when they interviewed Troy. Even after 14 years, he seemed to remember intricate details while the others had naturally foggy memory of the entire affair.
The case again seemed to go cold but the Prineville Police Department called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department to inform them that Troy had confessed to his probation officer that he had murdered Walter in 1990. As per police reports, Troy was a registered sex offender since being convicted of encouraging child sexual abuse in 2007 and attended alcohol and drug therapy as well as counseling sessions. He claimed that he had beaten Walter almost to death and thrown him off the bridge on March 24, 1990.
Where are Troy Culver, Eric Forsgren, and Geoff Calligan Today?
According to Oregon law, no individual can be convicted for confessing to a crime unless the investigators could find physical evidence to substantiate the confession. With the passing of so many years, it was highly improbable to find any evidence, so the investigators decided to interrogate the other 2 accomplices. The police again interviewed Eric Forsgren and Geoff Calligan and they testify in exchange for immunity that Troy had indeed done the crime. Eric was allegedly even sure that Walter was not dead when they had thrown his body over the bridge and into the ocean.
Troy was indicted on counts of first-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in July 2010. However, he plead guilty and was charged with manslaughter only and handed a maximum prison sentence of 10 years as per the sentencing guidelines from 1990. He served his sentence in the Snake River Correctional Institution and was released in June 2020. As of now, he is in his 50s and remains in Prineville, Oregon, and remains under community supervision.