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Police charge Oregon man in deaths of 3 women found in 2023

By Ehren Wynder

May 18 (UPI) -- Police on Friday said an imprisoned Oregon man was charged in connection with the deaths of three women in Portland.

A grand jury this week indicted Jesse Calhoun, 39, on three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree.

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Calhoun is charged in the deaths of three women, Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leanne Webster, 31; and Joanna Speaks, 32, whose bodies were found within days of each other last year in the Portland area.

He currently serving time for an unrelated offense at Snake River Correctional Institute and was due to be released just weeks after the new charges were handed down.

"Today's indictment of Jesse Calhoun marks a significant step toward justice," Multnomah County Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell said at a news conference.

"We recognize that until today, there have been many questions and that their deaths have caused fear and anxiety across our area and for the families that have been waiting for answers."

Authorities also are investigating Calhoun's possible link to the deaths of two other women, Kristin Smith and Ashley Real, whose bodies also were found last year. He has not been charged in those cases.

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Police found a sixth unidentified woman but later deemed her death not a homicide and unrelated to the other five cases.

Calhoun has been a person of interest in the deaths since last year, authorities have said.

Perry's mother, Diana Allen, on Friday said it was "very, very frustrating for our families to not have answers," for over a year, but she thanked detectives for their work on the case.

"But I've also had to put back in my mind that these people wanted to - they cared more about justice for Charity than they did for my feelings, that I have to have a level of respect for that," she said.

Perry's body was found on April 24, 2023 in a culvert near Ainsworth State Park in the Columbia River Gorge after she disappeared a month earlier. The unidentified woman was found that same day in southeastern Portland.

Webster was found days after Perry in rural Polk County, about 70 miles from Portland.

Investigators on April 8 found Speaks's body near an abandoned barn in Ridgefield. They determined her death a homicide by blunt trauma to the neck and head.

Smith's body turned up in mid-February 2023 in Portland's Pleasant Valley neighborhood. Real's body was discovered about two months later in rural Clackamas County.

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"Since it's still an active investigation for my daughter Kristin Smith and Ashley Real," Smith's mother, Melissa Smith, said at Friday's press conference, "we just keep going. We keep waiting, we keep praying and stay hopeful."

Allen expressed solidarity for the family members whose daughters' investigations remain ongoing.

"Just because not all of these girls have their charges brought up yet, for the other families - does not mean that we aren't still standing beside them," she said. "We're still together. The whole way, always."

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