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Portland ‘serial killer’: Ex-governor under fire over Jesse Calhoun’s early prison release as ‘girlfriend’ reveals ties to victims

Police connect career criminal to deaths of four women in Oregon but consider him only a ‘person of interest’

Josh Marcus,Gustaf Kilander,Joe Sommerlad
Friday 21 July 2023 16:22 BST

Murdered Oregon woman’s sister says cops avoiding serial killer theory

Oregon officials have identified Jesse Lee Calhoun of Portland, as a person of interest in the mystery deaths of four women that police say are linked, law enforcement sources told The Associated Press.

The 38-year-old has not been charged with any crimes related to the investigation. He is currently in prison on unrelated charges after being arrested on 6 June for a parole violation.

Court records show that Calhoun has an extensive criminal history including 2003 and 2008 convictions for assault. He was also sentenced to four years in 2019 for burglary.

He was released early in July 2021 after being granted a “conditional commutation” by then-Oregon governor Kate Brown, due to his service as an inmate firefighter during the wildfires and the fear of Covid-19 spreading in prisons.

Meanwhile, a woman saying that she’s Calhoun’s girlfriend has said that he had links to two of the four victims, revealing that Calhoun and Ashley Real had been seeing each other on and off for about a year and that he would provide Bridget Webster with drugs in exchange for sex.

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Medical examiner has not determined cause of deaths in Oregon investigation

Four women’s deaths in the Portland metro area have been connected to one person of interest, authorities in several police departments confirmed on Monday.

However, the manner of each of their deaths is still unclear.

According to a joint press release, the Oregon State Medical examiner has not been able to determine the cause and manner of each of their deaths.

All four women were found near or on the side of the road within 100 miles of one another.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 04:32
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Other Oregon deaths not part of probe, police say

Speculation about a possible serial killer or link between deaths began last month when people pointed to six different potential homicide victims as being related.

Now police have linked four of the deaths together by one person of interest.

But two deaths, that of Oregon resident Joanna Speaks, 32, and an unidentified woman are not considered related to the current investigation.

Ms Speaks was found on an abandoned property in Ridgefield, Washington about 20 miles north of Portland. Authorities in the Clark County Sheriff’s Office indicated that Ms Speaks’ body may have been moved.

The other woman, who remains unidentified, was found in a neighbourhood in downtown Portland. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office indicated she may have been Native American or Native Alaskan and between the ages of 25 and 40.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 05:32
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As Oregon police investigate one potential killer, New York officials catch another

As the Portland community awaits updates on a possible serial killer case in their area, another case is unfolding on the other side of the country.

Last week, police in New York announced a major break in the investigation of the Gilgo Beach murders, with the arrest of Manhattan-based architect Rex Heuermann as a prime suspect.

Read more:

How the Gilgo Beach serial killer turned the Long Island shore into a graveyard

More than a decade after 11 bodies were found dumped in Long Beach, married father of two and Manhattan-based architect Rex Heuermann is under arrest. Does this mean the hunt for the Gilgo Beach serial killer is finally over? Rachel Sharp reports

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 06:32
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Read the full update from Oregon police on suspicious deaths investigation

Below is the joint news release from nine law enforcement agencies on 17 July.

“Investigators and prosecutors from multiple law enforcement agencies have been working collaboratively on numerous death investigations in Northwest Oregon, and they have determined that there are links between four cases: Kristin Smith, Charity Perry, Bridget Webster, and Ashley Real.

“These Investigators and prosecutors, from nine different law enforcement agencies, have been in regular communication and have been working collaboratively on these investigations for several months. These agencies include the Gresham Police Department, Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County District Attorney’s Office, and the Oregon State Police.

“No charges have been filed against anyone in connection with any of these four death investigations. Investigators have interviewed multiple people in connection with these cases and have identified at least one person of interest that is linked to all four of the decedents. Based on the available information to investigators, there is not believed to be any active danger to the community at this time.

“No additional information, including the nature of the information that links these four cases together is being released at this time, as these are ongoing death investigations. The cause and manner of death in each case remains undetermined by the Oregon State Medical Examiner.

“These four ongoing investigations include:

  • February 19, 2023 – Kristin Smith, 22 (Portland Police Bureau)

    • Missing report filed with the Gresham Police Department on December 22, 2022.
  • April 24, 2023 – Charity Lynn Perry, 24 (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)
  • April 30, 2023 – Bridget Leann (Ramsay) Webster, 31 (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)
  • May 7, 2023 – Ashley Real, 22 (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office)

    • Missing report filed with the Portland Police Bureau on April 4, 2023.

“Investigators continue to seek the public’s help in each of these investigations. Anyone with information about these cases is asked to contact the appropriate investigator or investigative agency. Media requests regarding specific cases should be directed to the investigating agency.

“Anyone desiring anonymity may submit tips to Crime Stoppers of Oregon. Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards of up to $2,500 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers of Oregon, that leads to an arrest in any unsolved felony crime and tipsters can remain anonymous. Secure and anonymous tips may be provided at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com or visit the App Store and download P3 Tips for smart phones or tablets.

“Crime Stoppers of Oregon is funded 100% by community donations. To support Crime Stoppers of Oregon with a donation, or to view other unsolved cases, please visit http://www.crimestoppersoforegon.com/.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 07:32
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Did a governor’s pardon let out the possible Oregon killer?

Jesse Calhoun, a Portland man whom police have reportedly identified as a person of interest in the recent deaths of four Oregon women, was let out of prison early by then-governor Kate Brown.

Originally set to be released in summer of 2022, Mr Calhoun’s sentence was conditionally commuted, part of a group of 41 Oregon inmates given reduced sentences following their service in prison fire crews battling wildfires in 2020, per Willamette Week. He was released in 2021.

“I am absolutely horrified for the victims, their families, and all those who have experienced these losses,” Ms Brown told KOIN in a statement.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 08:32
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Separating fact from fiction in the Oregon investigation

There are times when the media is able to race ahead of what the police can say on a big story.

That’s the case now when it comes to the ongoing Oregon police investigation of four women who were found dead around the wider Portland area in recent months.

While law enforcement sources have told local media outlets that the deaths are murders, and the potential handiwork of a currently incarcerated Portland man named Jesse Lee Calhoun, the official story is much more spare at the moment.

Police have not yet referred to the deaths as murders, nor have they named Mr Calhoun as a suspect or charged him with any crime.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 09:32
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GOP fueling misleading narrative that Kate Brown caused Oregon killings

Critics on the right are attacking former Oregon governor Kate Brown for commuting the prison sentence of Jesse Lee Calhoun, a man reportedly being considered a person of interest in the suspicious deaths of four women around the Portland area in recent months.

On Twitter, the Marion County, Oregon, Republican Party highlighted a news story about the commutation, while commenters on the right lashed out at Ms Brown.

“The incompetent, evil former gov Brown released this man into society,” one account known as HoneyBadgerMom wrote on social media. “Never forget what these monsters did.”

As The Independent has reported, Calhoun was slated for release in June of 2022, but got out on 22 July, 2021, after the governor commutted his sentence for service on an inmate firefighting crew.

The suspicious deaths were discovered between February and May of 2023, likely after Calhoun would’ve been released on his original sentence.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 11:00
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Jesse Lee Calhoun nearly got away from police in June

Jesse Lee Calhoun, the reported person of interest in the suspicious recent deaths of four Oregon women, had a tense recent encounter with law enforcement, according to law enforcement.

On 6 June, officers from multiple local sheriff’s departments and the US Marshals Service attempted to arrest the 38-year-old on a parole violation.

He then reportedly drove into the Willamette River and tried to escape before later being arrested, Willamette Week reports.

The 38-year-old is currently being held in Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon, according to state records.

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 12:32
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ICYMI: Convicted burglar, father, and inmate firefighter: What we know about person of interest in Portland deaths

Authorities have reportedly identified 38-year-old Jesse Lee Calhoun as a person of interest connected to the suspicious deaths of four women in the Portland metro area, according to anonymous law enforcement officials.

Police have not officially named a person of interest in the case or announced any charges.

Officials believe the 38-year-old has some link to the deaths of Kristin Smith, 22; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leann (Ramsay) Webster, 31; and Ashely Real, 22.

All four women were found dead within 100 miles of one another either near or on the sides of roads between February and May of this year.

Ariana Baio reports.

What we know about person of interest in Portland deaths

Police in Oregon say the deaths of four women whose bodies were found on roadsides may be linked, writes Ariana Baio

Josh Marcus20 July 2023 13:00
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An inmate was pardoned by Oregon’s governor. Two years on he’s a person of interest in four suspicious deaths

Authorities have reportedly identified 38-year-old Jesse Lee Calhoun as a person of interest connected to the suspicious deaths of four women in the Portland metro area, according to anonymous law enforcement officials.

Police have not officially named a person of interest in the case or announced any charges.

Officials believe the 38-year-old has some link to the deaths of Kristin Smith, 22; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leann (Ramsay) Webster, 31; and Ashely Real, 22.

All four women were found dead within 100 miles of one another either near or on the sides of roads between February and May of this year.

Police have not been able to determine the manners or cause of deaths.

Read more:

What we know about Portland ‘serial killer’ case person of interest Jesse Calhoun

Police in Oregon say the deaths of four women whose bodies were found on roadsides may be linked, writes Ariana Baio

Ariana Baio20 July 2023 13:30

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