Prisoner released under COVID policy is now a person of interest in four deaths

 July 21, 2023

The Oregonian noted that six women turned up dead in the greater Portland area earlier this year over a three month time span.

On Tuesday the paper reported that at least four of those women have been linked to a man former Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown released from jail. 

Few details released by district attorney's office

The Oregonian noted that while the Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office has not confirmed the person of interest, it cited law enforcement sources as saying he is 38-year-old Jesse Calhoun.

While few details have been made public, the district attorney's office has indicated that there is evidence linking the deaths of 22-year-old Kristin Smith, 24-year-old Charity Lynn Perry, 31-year-old Bridget Leann Ramsay, and 22-year-old Ashley Real.

The Oregonian stated that the Oregon State Medical Examiner has yet to reveal a cause of death for each of the four women.

The Portland Police Bureau said as recently as last month there were no signs that the deaths were tied to one another.

Meanwhile, the Clark County Sheriff's Office announced that it thus far has no reason to connect one of the other decedents, 32-year-old JoAnna Speaks to the four previously listed women.

Calhoun was released early from prison

Speaks' body was discovered inside of a barn three and a half months ago in Ridgefield, Washington, which is roughly 22 miles north of Portland.

An article published by the Post Millennial recalled how Calhoun has been described by law enforcement sources as  a "prolific thief and career criminal."

The website pointed out that Calhoun had been incarcerated in 2021 but was released by then-Gov. Brown, shaving 12 months off of his sentence.

One thousand other prisons released

Calhoun's release was part of a series of criminal justice reforms under Brown that saw 1000 other prisoners turned loose, partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Calhoun has since been taken back into custody.

Elisabeth Shepard serves as a spokeswoman for current Oregon Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek, and the Post Millennial quoted a statement from her which explained that Kotek office had been contacted by local authorities about Calhoun.

"The governor's office received a request to revoke Jesse Lee Calhoun’s commutation status from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office on July 3, 2023, and fulfilled the request the same day," she said, adding, "We do not have further comment as this is a pending investigation."

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