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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.


Worries about a possible serial killer began to take form last month as all women died in suspicious ways

Worries about a possible serial killer began to take form last month as all women died in suspicious ways around the Portland metro area.

Robyn Speaks’s sister Joanna was found dead in a rural area with blunt force trauma to her head and neck, police have said, with the case later being billed as a homicide.

Ms Speaks told NewsNation that she believes the police “are trying to make sure that they keep the public from being too freaked out about [a] serial killer. Either way, women are dying. And the numbers are rising”.

“No charges have been filed against anyone in connection with any of these four death investigations,” the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement agencies said in a press release. “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.”

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 01:30

‘Kate Brown’s legacy continues to have dire consequences for Oregonians,’ GOP says

The Oregon Senate GOP rebuked former Governor Kate Brown on Twitter for the early release of prisoners.

“Governor Kate Brown let >1,000 violent criminals out of prison early and now one of them is a top suspect in the killing of 4 women. A deadly consequence of a soft-on-crime Democrat governor & a soft-on-crime Democrat majority that refused to hold her accountable,” they wrote.

Oregon Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp said in a statement that “Even after leaving public office as America’s most unpopular governor, Kate Brown’s legacy continues to have dire consequences for Oregonians. If Jesse Lee Calhoun is found guilty of these murders, Kate Brown will have signed the death warrants of four innocent women in the name of ‘second chances’”.

“Oregon Democrats have a pathetic record of putting criminals over victims and patting themselves on the back for it. We have not forgotten that the Democrat majority stayed totally silent while Governor Brown issued a record number of commutations and pardons for drug dealers, murderers, rapists, and other violent offenders like Calhoun. This is disgraceful,” he added. “On behalf of all Oregonians, we demand that Democrat leaders govern to protect-not jeopardize-the lives of Oregonians by holding criminals accountable and allowing law enforcement to keep us safe. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families, and we pray for healing in the years to come. The perpetrator must be fully held accountable.”

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 02:15

‘Oregonians shouldn’t have to die because Democrats followed a failed policy of letting criminals out,’ Republican says

During an appearance on Fox News, Oregon Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp said that “Oregonians shouldn’t have to die because Democrats followed a failed policy of letting criminals out of prison and giving them a second chance when their victims don’t get a second chance”.

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 03:00

GOP fueling misleading narrative that Kate Brown caused Oregon deaths

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 Marcus21 July 2023 04:00

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 Marcus21 July 2023 05:00

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 Marcus21 July 2023 06:00

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 Baio21 July 2023 07:00

‘I don’t know how he made it through the 10 officers'

A man who saw Calhoun being arrested told KGW that “There’s craziness in the world. You hope it doesn’t happen too often. It was pretty nuts to see it happen in my backyard”.

Calhoun was arrested on 6 June as he and his girlfriend were at a gas station in Milwaukie. The arrest didn’t occur without incident.

“I don’t know how he made it through the 10 officers but he made it through and across traffic and down to the river and hopped in,” the witness told KGW.

“I was like, ‘I wonder what this guy did,’” the witness added. “It seems whatever he did was really important — or required that much law enforcement, I should say.

“I don’t want to see him come out from bars ever again.”

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 08:00

Mothers of women in Portland ‘serial killer’ case cling to hope of accountability

The mothers of four women found dead in suspicious circumstances around the Portland metro area are hoping for accountability after police identified a person of interest in the case.

Between February and May this year, the bodies of six women were found in roadsides and woods in a 100-mile area of the city, sparking fears of a serial killer in the area.

Jesse Calhoun, a former convict who is currently behind bars for a parole violation in connection to another case, was identified on Monday as a person of interest in the deaths of four women, according to law enforcement sources.

The four women are: Ashley Real, 22, Bridget Leann Ramsey Webster, 31, Charity Lynn Perry, 24, and Kristin Smith, 22.

Calhoun, 38, hasn’t been charged with a crime and officials haven’t shared any information about what led to the sudden development in the case.

Read more:

Mothers of women in Portland ‘serial killer’ case cling to hope of accountability

‘I’m just really hoping that this is it. I don’t know – I guess I’m still kind of in shock by it all, but I’m just hoping that we got him,’ one grieving mother said

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 09:00

‘My daughter had such bad mental health issues, and any hope of her getting better is gone'

Diana Allen is the mother of Perry, who was found dead in a state park along the Columbia River Gorge.

Ms Allen said on Tuesday that she found out about the person of interest via the media, but added that she’s in communication with a detective working on the case.

“I’m in the dark about a lot,” Ms Allen told The Associated Press. “But the detective and I understand why this is required. We don’t need anything messing up this investigation.”

She added that she knows that her daughter died in April, but not the precise date or how she died.

The state medical examiner hasn’t been able to determine the cause or manner of death for any of the four women as of yet.

“This hurts so bad. My daughter had such bad mental health issues, and any hope of her getting better is gone. It’s gone now, and a horrid ache replaced it,” Ms Allen said.

Gustaf Kilander21 July 2023 10:00

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