Salem, Ore. — When the bodies of four women began appearing in wooded areas in northwest Oregon in February, police said the cases didn't appear to be connected. But on Monday, prosecutors dropped a bombshell, saying they are linked and "at least one person of interest" has been identified.
The state medical examiner hasn't determined the cause or manner of death of any of the women, prosecutors said in a statement.
But, in an about-face from a June 4 Portland Police Bureau statement that six deaths didn't seem connected, the Multnomah County District Attorney's office in Portland announced that investigators have concluded that four of them are.
"Investigators and prosecutors from multiple law enforcement agencies have been working collaboratively ... and they have determined that there are links between four cases: Kristin Smith, Charity Perry, Bridget Webster, and Ashley Real," the prosecutor's office said.
"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," the DA's office added.
The Multnomah County District Attorney's office in Portland says no charges have been filed against anyone but that the community isn't currently in any danger. Local media reported a man is in custody.
CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV says multiple sources at different agencies tell it Jesse Lee Calhoun, a 38-year-old man with an extensive criminal history is the person of interest, though it wasn't clear how he was connected to the cases.
The DA's announcement led to online reports of a serial killer, but officials didn't use those words in announcing the connections among the deaths.
The women's bodies were found in Portland and rural areas starting on Feb. 19, with the latest one found on May 7. One body was found about 45 miles southwest of Portland, near a creek in Polk County.
The first body discovered was that of Smith, 22, in a wooded area in a suburb southeast of Portland. Smith's disappearance was reported to police in suburban Gresham on Dec. 22, 2022.
"It's quite like a piece of you is missing, that's really the only way you can describe it," Hailey Smith, Kristin's sister, told KPTV, a Portland television station, as family members searched for the then-missing woman.
Family members hung up fliers and looked for Smith near homeless shelters and other sites in downtown Portland. And a private "Justice for Kristin Smith" Facebook page with over 600 members was created over four months ago.
Perry was 24 when she died. Her body was found on April 24 near a state park alongside the Columbia River, east of Portland.
Webster's body was found on April 30 near Mill Creek in rural northwest Polk County. She was 31.
Real, 22, was last seen at a fast-food restaurant near Portland on March 27, police said. She was reported missing on April 4. Her body was found on May 7 in a forest southeast of Portland.
Investigators from nine law enforcement agencies, including the prosecutor's offices in three Oregon counties and the Oregon State Police, have been collaborating on the cases and have interviewed multiple people in connection with them, authorities said.
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