Suspected serial killer indicted for deaths of three women in Portland

PORTLAND, OR – Just weeks before his scheduled release from prison, Jesse Lee Calhoun, 39, has been indicted on charges related to a string of murders in the Portland area. The ex-convict, who was released early in 2021, is now accused of killing at least three women and is suspected in two additional deaths, according to authorities.

Calhoun was apprehended last year after several women were found dead within a 100-mile radius of Portland. He now faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of abuse of a corpse following a comprehensive investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

Authorities have named Calhoun as a person of interest in five murders that took place between February and May. The victims—Joanna Speaks, 32; Kristin Smith, 22; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Bridget Leann Webster, 31; and Ashley Real, 22—were all discovered in wooded areas in Washington or Oregon.

On Friday, Multnomah County prosecutors announced the indictment in the deaths of Perry, Webster, and Speaks. Perry, who was homeless and living in a tent in Vancouver, Washington, was found in a culvert at Ainsworth State Park, 35 miles east of Portland. Speaks’ remains were discovered near an abandoned barn in Ridgefield, Washington, with signs of blunt force trauma to the head and neck. Webster, originally from Milwaukie, Oregon, was found dead in Polk County.

The deaths of Real and Smith remain under investigation. Real was last seen at a Portland fast-food restaurant on March 27, and her remains were found in Eagle Creek on May 7. Smith went missing on December 22, 2022, and her remains were discovered in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood on February 19.

Calhoun’s criminal history includes convictions for car theft, burglary, and assaulting officers. His 2018 sentence for drug and weapons charges was commuted by then-Gov. Kate Brown in 2021 as part of a program offering leniency to prisoners who volunteered to fight wildfires. However, he has been in custody since last year after Gov. Tina Kotek revoked his clemency.

Calhoun is expected to be transferred from Snake River Correctional Institution to Multnomah County jail ahead of his arraignment.