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Does Oregon Have a Serial Killer on the Loose?

Six women around the Portland area have been found dead between February and May, prompting fear in Oregonians

Six women around the Portland area have been found dead between February and May, prompting fear in Oregonians

Kristin Smith’s remains were found February 19, Joanna Speaks’ was found April 8, Charity Perry’s was found April 24, an unidentified woman’s remains were also found April 24, Bridget Webster found April 30 and lastly Ashley Real’s remains were found May 7. Each of these women’s remains were found within the Portland region according to The Portland Police Bureau.

Social media posts from platforms like Facebook have been circulating and attempting to link the six deaths, because of the close proximity of the remains. This way of thinking isn’t a stretch in itself since most serial killers have a defined geographic area of operation, their killings happen within comfort zones that are most often defined by an “anchor point” (e.g. place of residence, employment, or residence of a relative) according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, increasing the likeliness of their theories. 

Each woman was found in a rural area either in a forest, state park, creek or abandoned building away from the sight of others. Yet, despite public speculation, only one case was ruled as homicide; 32 year old Joanna Speaks’ case is being investigated by police as such. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office told news sources that “there are indications the body was moved to this location,” They stated. “This is being investigated as a homicide and no further details regarding the circumstances of the body are being released at this time.” The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office deemed Speaks’ cause of death a homicide from blunt head and neck injuries.

Although these cases are fairly new and still under investigation, the Portland Police Bureau has already made a statement saying they have no reason to believe these deaths are connected. 

“Historically, the first indication that a serial murderer was at work was when two or more cases were linked by forensic or behavioral evidence,” stated the FBI. No forensic evidence has been found so far connecting all or any of the women’s deaths and the police have not revealed the suspected cause of death for any of the women besides Speaks. A trend in the manner of killing — as in all the women being killed in similar ways — has not been identified. Also, foul play has been ruled out in the case of the unidentified woman and no one has been arrested for any of these murders. Also, as far as the public knows the police have not established any people of interest. 

Law force agencies are still working together to determine whether the internet theory is true. “Five different law enforcement agencies are investigating the women’s deaths — and at least three of the agencies have said they are working with the others to determine if the cases could be connected and have a single perpetrator,” according to the New York Post. 

Yet so far no real links have been found between these cases beyond all the victims being  women near the Portland area. Until concrete evidence is found, the public should not have to worry about the potential of a serial killer. It is still a good caution to lock the doors of your homes and stay safe because cases like these remind us of how fragile life is, and the dangers those around us can pose to our lives. 

Photos of the women:

Ashley Real, 22, went missing in late March and was found dead on May 7.
Credit: Portland Police Bureau
Joanna Speaks’ remains were found in Ridgefield, Washington, on April 8. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Credit: Clark County Sheriff’s Office
Bridget Webster vanished in early March and her body was found on April 30.
Credit: Polk County Sheriff’s Office
The body of Charity Perry was found in Ainsworth State Park on April 24.
Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office
The remains of an unidentified Native American, possibly a Native Alaskan woman, were discovered on April 24.
Credit: Multnomah County
Kristin Smith disappeared in December 2022 and was found dead in Portland on Feb. 19.
Credit: Portland Police Bureau