Imprisoned Oregon man charged in deaths of three women found in Portland area last year

An imprisoned Oregon man was indicted Friday in connection with the deaths of three women whose bodies were found “under suspicious circumstances” last year in the Portland area, authorities announced Friday.

Jesse Calhoun, 39, was indicted by a grand jury this week on three counts of murder in the second degree and three counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said.

The charges relate to the deaths of three women — Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leanne Webster, 31; and Joanna Speaks, 32 — who were found in and around Portland early last year.

“There’s still more work to be done. Investigations are ongoing,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said at a news conference Friday.

Two other women were found dead and were determined to have been killed in three months in the Portland area last year. Those cases continue to be investigated, officials said.

The body of a sixth woman was also found in that time period, but her death was later determined not to have been a homicide, the district attorney’s office said Friday.

A person wears a T-shirt with the names of Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Joanna Speaks, Ashley Real, and Bridget Webster. (Jenny Kane / AP)
A person wears a T-shirt with the names of Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Joanna Speaks, Ashley Real, and Bridget Webster. (Jenny Kane / AP)

In July 2023, the district attorney’s office said it believed four of those deaths, including those of Perry and Webster, both part of this week’s indictment, were linked.

Calhoun had been arrested last year on unrelated charges, and his release date from the state Department of Corrections was approaching in early June, Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Marrero said.

Online Department of Corrections records show Calhoun, imprisoned since July, had an earliest release date of June 7.

The grand jury voted Thursday to indict Calhoun on murder charges in the deaths of the three women.

Calhoun’s connection to the three slain women was not revealed at Friday’s news conference. No arraignment date has been set.

It was not clear if Calhoun had an attorney who represented him in the murder cases and who could speak on his behalf.

The discovery of the three women, and others, caused fear in the community, something that Multnomah County Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell acknowledged. She called the indictment “a significant step towards justice” for the three victims.

“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 who have been waiting for answers,” she said.

Diana Allen, Perry’s mother, said Friday that the family has been frustrated, but she said she understood that investigators couldn’t always share what they knew in her daughter’s killing.

“A lot of the public has felt that nothing has been happening this whole time,” she said. “And I want to tell you that these detectives have worked so hard.”

“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.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com