Oregon man charged with murder in suspicious deaths of 3 women in 'complex' case: DA

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Oregon man charged with murder in suspicious deaths of 3 women: DA
The arrest of Oregon man Jesse Lee Calhoun comes after police spoke out against online speculation regarding a possible Portland serial killer.

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. -- An Oregon man has been charged in the murders of three women who were found dead under "suspicious circumstances" last year, officials announced Friday.

Authorities have identified one suspect in the deaths of the three women - Charity Lynn Perry, 24, Bridget Leanne Webster, 31, and Joanna Speaks, 32 - the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office said Friday.

Jesse Lee Calhoun, 39, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of second-degree abuse of a corpse in connection with the women's deaths, the district attorney's office said, after a grand jury returned the six-count indictment on Thursday.

At a press briefing Friday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt called the case "complex," and said it required a "significant investigation" involving multiple law enforcement agencies.

"There's still more work to be done, investigations are ongoing," Schmidt said.

Calhoun has been in custody at Snake River Correctional Institution since July 2023 for unrelated charges and was scheduled to be released next month, online Oregon Department of Corrections records show. He is expected to be transferred to the custody of Multnomah County authorities for arraignment, prosecutors said. It is unclear if Calhoun has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Multnomah County authorities, citing the ongoing investigation, released few details about the case, including what alleged evidence led them to the suspect and how the women died.

Speaks' body was found at an abandoned property in Ridgefield, Washington, on April 8, 2023, authorities said. Police in Portland, Oregon, said in November 2023 that the homicide was believed to have happened in Portland.

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office said in July 2023 that they were investigating whether the deaths of four women - including Perry and Webster - who were found dead throughout Oregon were related. The announcement came weeks after Portland police spoke out against online speculation regarding a possible serial killer in the Pacific Northwest.

Perry's body was found in a culvert near Ainsworth State Park in east Multnomah County on April 24, 2023, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said. The Polk County Sheriff's Office in Oregon said Webster's body was found six days later, on April 30, 2023.

Perry's mother, Diana Allen, told reporters Friday that it's been "very, very frustrating" for the families of the victims not to have answers amid the ongoing investigation, but that she has had respect for the district attorney office's process.

"Even though they wouldn't give me the answers, I knew they had answers," she said.

The deaths of two other women - Kristin Smith and Ashley Real, both 22 - initially believed to have been linked, remain under investigation, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office said Friday.

The body of Smith, who was reported missing in December 2022, was found on Feb. 19, 2023, in a wooded area in Portland, police said. Real's body was found in a wooded area in Clackamas County in Oregon in May 2023, a month after she was reported missing to Portland police, authorities said.

"We keep waiting, we keep praying and stay hopeful," Melissa Smith, Kristin Smith's mother, said during Friday's press briefing. "We stay hopeful that we soon can get justice for them as well."