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Police address serial killer fears after six women found dead in less than three months


Six women have been found dead in less than three months in secluded, wooded areas in Portland, Oregon, prompting local fears a serial killer could be behind the deaths.

But authorities have addressed the concerns, and clarified they have not found any evidence to suggest that the cases are linked.

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The women’s bodies were found within 160km of one another, Portland Police Bureau said in a news release over the weekend.

Police have not determined whether they were all homicide victims, but they were all under age 40.

Although news of the deaths was widely circulated on social media, the Portland Police Bureau said there was no reason to believe the deaths were connected.

“These discussions have led to some anxiety and fear in our community, and we want to provide reassurance that the speculation is not supported by the facts available at this point,” the department said in the statement on Sunday.

The body of Kristin Smith, 22, was discovered on February 19 in southeast Portland. Police said her cause of death has not been determined.

JoAnna Speaks, 32, was found dead on April 8 inside a barn at an abandoned property in Ridgefield, Washington, about 35km north of Portland, authorities said. She died of blunt-force trauma to her neck and head, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner.

Charity Lynn Perry, 24, was found in a culvert by the East Historic Columbia River Highway in Multnomah County on April 24, sheriff’s office spokesperson Deputy John Plock said.

An unidentified woman was found dead inside a tent in Portland on the same day, police said, adding she may have been Indigenous, and there were no signs of foul play.

Bridget Webster, 31, was discovered on a rural road in Polk County on April 30, and Ashley Real, 22, was found in a wooded area on May 7.

Clockwise from top left, Kristin Smith, Ashley Real, an unidentified woman who died April 24 in Portland, Charity Perry, Bridget Webster and JoAnna Speaks. Credit: Portland Police Bureau; Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office; Polk County Sheriff’s Office; via GoFundMe

“It’s just so heartbreaking, and it’s really hard to put into words,” Robyn Speaks, JoAnna Speaks’ sister said of the Portland deaths.

“It’s kind of hitting us more that it’s real, and we keep seeing on the news all these new girls.”

JoAnna Speak’s stepsister Ariel Hamby said she was horrified and heartbroken.

“She was an amazing sister and wonderful daughter and a fantastic mother,” Hamby said. “This isn’t just about my sister any more even if it’s not one person doing this.”

Webster’s step-grandfather, provided only his first name, Tom, after being inundated with phone calls about the women. Tom said he raised Webster “until she left when she was a freshman in high school.”

“She was a good girl until I lost contact with her years ago,” Tom said, adding that he changed her diapers and taught her how to play basketball.

Multiple police and sheriff’s departments are investigating the cases, and the Portland Police Bureau said it was also working with the county and state medical examiner’s offices.

“One of the main things that they are going to be looking at is the manner of death and the weapon,” former FBI special agent Bryanna Fox said.

“If that’s consistent across all of these victims, then that will be a huge point.”

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Source: 7News