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News / Clark County News

No connection between woman found dead in Ridgefield, 4 killed in Oregon

Person of interest ID'd in Oregon cases

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 18, 2023, 6:30am
5 Photos
Joanna Speaks, 32, of Oregon, who the Clark County Medical Examiner's office identified as the person found dead April 8 at an abandoned property in Ridgefield. The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investigating but has not established a connection between her death and the deaths of four other Oregon women who were killed within three months throughout the Portland metro area.
Joanna Speaks, 32, of Oregon, who the Clark County Medical Examiner's office identified as the person found dead April 8 at an abandoned property in Ridgefield. The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investigating but has not established a connection between her death and the deaths of four other Oregon women who were killed within three months throughout the Portland metro area. (Photo contributed by the Clark County Sheriff's Office) Photo Gallery

Clark County detectives say they’re investigating but have not established any connection between the deaths of four Oregon women and a woman whose body was found in April in Ridgefield.

Investigators with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office say they’ve identified at least one person of interest who is linked to the deaths of Kristin Smith, Charity Perry, Bridget Webster and Ashley Real. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said deputies are communicating with investigators in those cases about the death of Joanna Speaks, 32, who was found at an abandoned property in Ridgefield.

Speaks’ death investigation

On April 8, detectives responded to a deceased person, later identified as Speaks, at 8004 S. Fifth St. in Ridgefield, about a mile east of Interstate 5. The sheriff’s office said there is evidence she died elsewhere and her body had been moved to that location.

A vacant, boarded-up house stands on the 5-acre property, along with a small detached garage. Speaks’ body was found behind the garage, in tall grass and brambles, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Clark County Superior Court.

Clark County Connection?

In this undated photo provided by Diana Allen is her daughter, Charity Perry, after she won an award for spiciest chili in a competition. Perry's body was found on April 24, 2023, near a state park alongside the Columbia River, east of Portland, Oregon. Prosecutors said Monday, July 17, 2023, that investigators have linked her case and the cases of three other women found dead and that a person of interest has been identified.‘Person of interest’ held in Oregon deaths of 4 women after governor revokes commutation
The bodies of four women began appearing in wooded areas in northwest Oregon in February, though police initially said the cases…
Joanna Speaks, 32, of Oregon, who the Clark County Medical Examiner's office identified as the person found dead April 8 at an abandoned property in Ridgefield. The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investigating but has not established a connection between her death and the deaths of four other Oregon women who were killed within three months throughout the Portland metro area.No connection between woman found dead in Ridgefield, 4 killed in Oregon
Clark County detectives say they’re investigating but have not established any connection between the deaths of four Oregon women and a woman whose body was…

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office said she died from blunt head and neck injuries. Her death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The rulings do not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

Speaks’ family told deputies she spent her time in the Estacada, Ore., area. A police records search showed she had addresses in the past 10 years in Oregon City, Portland and the Milwaukie areas in Oregon. Family also said she had a tent in the Gladstone area and that she spent much of her life either homeless or couch surfing. They also said she used drugs, the affidavit states.

She also used to live in Vancouver and was convicted in a 2012 Clark County Superior Court case of first-degree robbery and tampering with a witness. Court records indicate she was released from prison in that case in 2015.

Speaks didn’t have a phone. She used Facebook Messenger and other people’s phones to communicate, they said.

She was arrested March 8 in Clackamas County on a warrant. Deputies said she requested housing assistance when she was released from jail. She was released March 15, and the affidavit states that’s the last time someone known to investigators had seen Speaks.

Information from her Facebook and Google email accounts showed that she had logged in between March 16 and March 20.

A family member of Speaks’ said she last spoke with her on March 29. Speaks told her she was at an apartment complex near the Clackamas Town Center Mall, which is where officers had arrested Speaks earlier that month.

“Based on Joanna’s known location history, it seems possible that she was murdered in Oregon and placed on the abandoned house property,” the affidavit states. Another search warrant affidavit states investigators located a device that showed it was on the abandoned Ridgefield property at 12:38 a.m. on April 3. “The device is within the time frame of Joanna’s murder and the time on the property indicates a person of interest,” the affidavit states.

However, the search warrant affidavits do not list a suspect in Speaks’ death.

No charges filed

Officials have not filed any charges in any of the four women’s death investigations. They believe there is not an active danger to the community, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

Willamette Week and The Oregonian report that people familiar with the investigations identified the person of interest in the four deaths as Jesse Lee Calhoun, whose most recent address is in Portland. Calhoun, 38, has been in custody at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Ore., since July 6, Willamette Week reported. Court records do not indicate Calhoun has been charged in connection with the women’s deaths.

The district attorney’s office did not say what connects the four cases. The state medical examiner says the cause and manner of death for the four women remain undetermined.

Smith, 22, whose body was found Feb. 19 in Southeast Portland, was reported missing Dec. 22. Perry, 24, was found April 21 at Ainsworth State Park in east Multnomah County. Perry was known to spend time in Vancouver, KGW reported. Webster, 31, was found April 30 in Polk County. Real, 22, was found May 7 in Clackamas County. She was reported missing April 4, according to the district attorney’s office news release.

Before Monday’s announcement, there had been online speculation that the deaths of the four women were connected, along with the death of Speaks and another unidentified woman. The Portland Police Bureau said last month investigators did not believe the deaths were connected and denied online rumors of a serial killer.

Anyone with information on the cases is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers of Oregon crimestoppersoforegon.com.

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