Jesse Calhoun identified as person of interest in suspicious deaths of four women in Portland

Police have not charged Oregon man with any crimes

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 21 July 2023 01:55 BST
Deaths of 4 women connected to man who was released from prison early in 2021

Oregon police have identified Jesse Lee Calhoun of Portland as a person of interest in the recent deaths of four area women that officials say are linked, according to the Associated Press, citing law enforcement sources.

On Monday, a group of nine Washington police agencies announced they had identified a person of interest in the deaths of Kristin Smith, 22; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leann (Ramsay) Webster, 31; and Ashely Real, 22. Police previously said the deaths, which took place between February and May, were unconnected.

Police have not publicly named Calhoun as a person of interest or charged him with any crimes related to the investigation.

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 the man is in jail.

The Independent has contacted the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, which is leading the joint investigation into the four deaths, for comment.

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.

Jesse Lee Calhoun
Jesse Lee Calhoun (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

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 2022, Mr 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.

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

Calhoun’s commutation was revoked earlier this month, governor Tina Kotek’s office told Oregon Public Broadcasting.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

At least three of the women found dead were known to frequent the same areas of downtown Portland in the months before their deaths, sources told Oregon Live in June.

Smith, who was reported missing in December of 2022, was found in February in a wooded area near the Pleasant Valley neighbourhood of Portland.

Perry, meanwhile, was discovered on 24 April near Ainsworth State Park, east of the city, according to the Multnomah Sheriff’s Office.

Police said the death appeared suspicious at the time.

Perry’s mother Diana Allen told KPIC she had been suffering from mental health issues, and that the family wanted her to be remembered for her kindness and positivity.

“She always had a smile that could light up the world,” Ms Allen told KPIC.

Webster was found less than a week later in northwest Polk County, southwest of Portland, with sheriff’s officials labeling the death suspicious.

The following month, Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputies found Real’s body in a wooded area near Eagle Creek, about 23 miles southeast of Portland.

Bevan Hurley contributed reporting to this story

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