The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon took a strong stance against “online rumors” Sunday, shutting down theories of a potential serial killer after the deaths of six women under the age of 40 within the last three months.
The agency publicly condemned the speculation, accusing social media posts and news articles of spreading “anxiety and fear in our community” without being “supported by the facts available at this point.”
“While any premature death is concerning…PPB has no reason to believe these six cases are connected,” the law enforcement agency wrote in a press release.
Officers with the PPB first found human remains in Multnomah County, Oregon, in February, later determining that the remains belonged to Kristin Smith, 22, who was reported missing on Dec. 22, according to the PPB.
Smith’s cause of death is unknown, and the investigation around her death is ongoing, according to a press release from the PPB.
More than a month later, police in nearby Clark County found the body of Joanna Speaks, 32, on an abandoned property. The Clark County Coroner ruled Speaks' death a homicide from "blunt head and neck injuries," according to ABC affiliate KATU.
On April 24, police located two additional bodies in Multnomah County. Deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office located the body of Charity Lynn Perry, 24, in a culvert, according to officials. Law enforcement is investigating the incident as a suspicious death.
The same day, officials found the body of an unidentified woman in a tent in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office. Officials are still trying to identify the women, who they estimate are between the age of 25 and 40, and possibly Native American or Native Alaskan.
“There is no indication that foul play was suspected by the [Medical Examiner] on scene, or the officers who were there to assist,” according to a release from the PPB.
A week later, officials with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office located the body of Bridget Leann (Ramsey) Webster. Law enforcement is asking the public for information about the suspicious death according to KATU.
The remains of Ashley Real, 22, were found by police on May 7 in a wooded area of Clackamas County, according to PPB. Real was last seen in late March and her death is being investigated as suspicious but is not conclusively a homicide, according to officials.
While the PPB has communicated with nearby agencies about some of the suspicious deaths, the organization pushed back against the idea that the interagency communication means the cases are connected.
“Like with all investigations of this nature we are routinely in contact with our law enforcement partners,” PPB wrote in their release. “That has happened here, but that should not suggest a connection has been made.”
Promising to communicate with the public if anything changes, PPB said the cases do not present an “articulable danger” at the moment.