Law enforcement agencies in the Portland, Washington region are working together to determine if the murders of six women could be linked to a serial killer.
Since February, the bodies of six women under the age of 40—Kristin Smith, 22; JoAnna Speaks, 32; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Webster, 31; Ashley Real, 22; and a Jane Doe—have been found in wooded areas within a 100-mile radius. Two of the bodies were found on the same day, less than three miles apart, according to the New York Post.
A spokesperson for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the Post that they're collaborating with other agencies to determine if any of the cases are linked.
"As we do with all investigations of this nature, our detectives are following up on every lead in this case, including several tips that are coming in from the public and comments being made on social media," the spokesperson said. “We are working with our partner agencies to determine if there are any connections between this case in Clackamas County and any others in the region."
However, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) discouraged online speculation about a potential serial killer. "These discussions have led to some anxiety and fear in our community, and we want to provide reassurance that the speculation is not supported by the facts available at this point," the office said in a statement issued June 5.
Photo: Facebook; Clackamas County Sheriff's Office; GoFundMe; Facebook; Ariel Hamby
"While any premature death is concerning, and we will diligently investigate deaths that happen in our jurisdiction in collaboration with the Multnomah County and Oregon State Medical Examiner’s offices, PPB has no reason to believe these 6 cases are connected," the statement continues. "We ask that our community be aware of the facts about these cases before sharing speculation. PPB is assuring our community that if we learn of an articulable danger, we will notify the public about it. PPB will continue to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to ensure we are doing all we can to pursue justice for any and all crime victims."
At this time, the PPB said it is not actively involved in the investigations into Perry, Webster and Speaks' deaths, though they have spoken with the agencies with jurisdiction over the cases. "That has happened here, but that should not suggest a connection has been made," the PPB stated.
Keep reading to learn more about the women and the investigations into their deaths.
The PPB is responsible for investigating the death of Kristin Smith, whose remains were found February 19, 2023. According to the office, Smith was reported missing by her family on December 22, 2022. She was last seen at a mall in southeast Portland, KPTV reported.
According to the PPB, a cause and manner of death have not yet been determined.
Her mother, Melissa Smith, wrote on a GoFundMe page that she believes her daughter was murdered. "She was murdered I'm sure of it but its (sic) not going to be easy to prove this," she wrote.
The body of 32-year-old JoAnna Speaks was found near an abandoned barn about 22 miles north of Portland on April 8, NBC News reported. The Clark County Medical Examiner's Office ruled her manner of death a homicide and the cause of death was "blunt head and neck injuries," according to the outlet. Additionally, the medical examiner said there was evidence her body had been dumped at the site.
Speaks' family told NBC affiliate KGW8 that they had last spoken to her in March and were told on April 11 that she was dead, three days after the gruesome discovery, according to a GoFundMe update shared by Speaks' stepsister Ariel Hamby. "Due to the excessive decomposition of her body, she was unable to be viewed," Hamby wrote.
The family has since cremated Speaks, who is survived by a 7-year-old daughter and two teen sons.
It's unclear if Speaks had been reported missing in the weeks prior to her death, however, Hamby shared, "Most know that JoAnna had a history of battling addiction – it was reported and confirmed that within the last 3 weeks of her life she had been seeking housing and guidance to get clean and be apart [sic] of her children’s life."
On June 2, Hamby expressed gratitude to the family's supporters and shared that they've been pressing for answers to Speaks' death and that of the other women.
"Thanks to the help of the community, we were able to bring to light that JoAnna is now 1 of 6 women found dead in the Portland Metro Area within a 4 month time frame— all of which died of suspicious causes not related to gun violence or overdose," Hamby wrote. "Our family’s heart continues to break with the loss of each woman— and though detectives have not been able to confirm a connection, we can’t help but wonder."
Anyone with further information is encouraged to contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit tip line at 564-397-2847.
Charity Lynn Perry
According to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Perry was found in a culvert northeast of Portland, Oregon on April 24. She was last seen in downtown Portland in early March.
Few details have been released in Perry's death and anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office tipline at 503-988-0560.
The same day that Perry was found, the remains of a Jane Doe were discovered in the Portland neighborhood of Lents, according to the PPB. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner's Office described the woman as being Native American or Alaskan, about 5-feet, 1-inch tall, with medium-length black hair. She's estimated to be between 25 and 40 years old.
"She had two large scars on her left lower leg and two tattoos: a black music note with the letter V on her left upper chest and the Buddha on her right upper back, on her shoulder blade," the description continues.
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According to the PPB, the body was found inside a tent. "There is no indication that foul play was suspected by the ME responder on scene, or the officers who were there to assist, and the PPB Homicide Unit has not become involved in the investigation," the PPB further stated.
On April 30, the remains of Milwaukie woman Bridget Webster, 31, were found on Harmony Road, about 50 miles southwest of Portland, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. She was known to frequently visit Portland but lived in Milwaukie, Oregon.
The Sheriff's Office described her death as "suspicious" but have offered no further details.
Anyone with information about Webster's death is encouraged to contact Detective Martin Watson at 503-623-7550.
The death of 22-year-old Ashley Real is also being treated as suspicious, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff. Real was initially reported missing to the Portland Police Bureau in April and was last seen on surveillance footage at a fast-food restaurant on March 27, per a press release from the PPB.
Real's remains were found on May 7. "A man who was in the area to do some fishing at a nearby pond called 9-1-1 to report the discovery of human remains in a heavily wooded area," according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
People with information can contact the sheriff's office’s tip line at 503-723-4949 or use the form at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/tip.