Ten deaths, two arrests and a person of interest: Multiple potential serial killers identified in one week

Only one suspect has been taken to court so far, where he pleaded not guilty

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 21 July 2023 12:14 BST
Moment Gilgo Beach suspect arrested in crowded New York street

In 2019, the number of active serial killers in the US was in the single digits, according to crime researchers.

In the last week, US officials believe they may have located at least two different serial killers across New York and Texas, allegedly responsible for at least six deaths. A third man is a person of interest in four deaths in Oregon.

Last Thursday, Rex Heuermann, a New York City architect, was arrested and charged with the murder of three women whose remains were found in Gilgo Beach, Long Island, a decade ago.

Rex Heuermann (AP)

Mr Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the killings of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello, all of whom were working as sex workers at the time of their deaths.

Suffolk County district attorney Ray Tierney said on Monday he feels officials have a solid case against the architect and that he’s “confident” Mr Heuermann will be charged the murder of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes.

Police reportedly used a DNA sample from a discarded pizza box, records from burner phones allegedly used to call the victims, and a sample of the architect’s wife’s hair found on one of the sets of remains to pin down the suspect.

Officials say Mr Mr Heuermann’s internet search history captured him seeking out images of child sex abuse and Googling the so-called Long Island Serial Killer, whom authorities allege to be the New York man.

Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Megan Waterman (clockwise from top left)

The following week, anonymous law enforcement sources told local media they had identified Jesse Lee Calhoun of Portland as a person of interest in the suspicious deaths of four women in the wider metro area in recent months, though officials have not publicly named him or charged him with any crimes.

Jesse Lee Calhoun (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

If he is in fact a person of interest, that would mean Oregon police think he has some tie to the deaths of Kristin Smith, 22; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leann (Ramsay) Webster, 31; and Ashely Real, 22, all of whom were found in wooded areas or near roads in the wider Portland area between February and May.

Police have said the deaths are linked, though officials haven’t determined an official cause of death.

Kristin Smith, 32, Charity Lynn Perry, 24, Bridget Webster, 31 and Ashley Real, 22 (Portland Police Bureau/Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office/Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Calhoun, whose last address was in Portland, is currently in custody at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon, on unrelated charges, according to state records.

The 38-year-old entered custody there on 6 July, and is scheduled to be released. Records do not indicate why he is in jail, though he was reportedly arrested last month on a parole violation and attempted to jump in a river to evade police officers.

In 2019, Calhoun was charged with three counts of unauthorised use of a vehicle, one count of assaulting a public safety officer, and one count of first-degree burglary.

When a SWAT team arrived that year to arrest Calhoun on outstanding warrants, he choked a police dog and kicked an officer, according to court records viewed by KOIN.

Originally set to be released in summer of 2022, Calhoun’s sentence was conditionally commuted by then-governer Kate Brown, 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.

Calhoun’s commutation was revoked earlier this month, governor Tina Kotek’s office told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The 38-year-old was arrested in 2018 with meth, guns, and numerous rounds of ammunition, an incident that prompted the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to label Calhoun a “prolific thief and career criminal.”

A Washington woman named Krista Senor, who says she was in a relationship with Calhoun, claimed she lived with the alleged person of interest and knew that he sold fentanyl and had sex with other women during their time together.

She claimed in an interview with a local YouTube channel Calhoun and one of the dead women, Real, had previously been involved with each other, and that Real would trade sex for drugs from the Portland man.

“I’m still in shock over this. It’s just surreal,” Ms Sinor, 43 told The Oregonian on Wednesday. “It’s very strange. I can’t wrap my mind around any of it. Neither can his family or friends.”

On Wednesday, Dallas, Texas, police arrested Oscar Sanchez Garcia, 25, and charged him with two counts of murder for the deaths of Kimberly Robinson, 60, and an unidentified woman, according to the Dallas Police Department.

Oscar Sanchez Garcia, 25, was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Kimberly Robinson, 60, and an unidentified woman. Police say he is also leading suspect in death of Cherish Gibson, 25 (DPD)

He is also suspected of killing a third woman, Cherish Gibson, 25.

He is currently being held on $4m bond and does not appear to have entered a plea on his charges.

The two murdered women were found on 22 April and 24 June, respectively, near a Dallas transit station. The third woman was found less than five miles away on Saturday.

Police linked the suspect to the killings using phone records and information from a licence plate reader to link him to the crime, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by WFAA.

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