A mysterious wave of tragedy struck the greater Portland area in three months. Six women under 40 have been found dead in various locations fewer than 100 miles apart. The Portland Police Bureau, alongside sheriff’s offices from Multnomah, Polk, Clark, and Clackamas counties, are currently carrying out investigations. Still, so far, the connections between the incidents have eluded them and left the community in a state of distress.
The first reported case was that of Kristin Smith, a 22-year-old from Gresham who went missing on December 22. On February 19, human remains were found near Southeast Deardorff Road and Flavel Street, and with the help of the Multnomah County medical examiner, Smith was identified on May 25. However, the exact cause of her death has not yet been determined.
On April 8, 32-year-old JoAnna Speaks of Oregon was discovered in a barn at an abandoned property in Ridgefield, Washington, about 22 miles from Portland. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is treating the case as a homicide and believes that the body had been moved to this exact location. The county medical examiner was able to determine that Speaks’ had died as a result of head and neck trauma.
Another unfortunate incident in east Multnomah County involved 24-year-old Charity Lynn Perry. Her body was found on April 24 in a ditch at a junction near Ainsworth State Park. Perry had been spotted around Southwest Washington Street and Fourth Avenue in downtown Portland in the beginning of March. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is classifying this death as suspicious.
In Southeast Portland’s Lents neighborhood, another female body was found on April 24 near Interstate 205 and Southeast Flavel Street. The Multnomah County Medical Examiners Office has requested public assistance in identifying the woman who is believed to have been between the ages of 25 and 40, of either Native American or Native Alaskan descent, had black, medium-length hair, was just over 5 feet tall, and weighed 135 pounds.
31-year-old Bridget Leann Ramsey Webster of Milwaukie was reported dead on April 30 on Harmony Road near Mill Creek in northwest Polk County. Webster was well known in the Portland metro area, particularly in the cities of Portland, Oregon City, and Milwaukie. Polk County Sheriff’s Office has deemed this case suspicious as well.
Finally, Ashley Renee Benson, 26-year-old from Portland, who had been reported missing on April 28, was found dead on May 7 in a wooded area near Southeast 174th Avenue and Alder Street in unincorporated Clackamas County. Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office is also looking into this death as suspicious.
With the tragedies of these six young women’s lives cut short, the authorities are finding the possible connections between these incidents and mitigating any fears among the public. The intense fear that clouds the greater Portland area has driven the local authorities to dedicate all available resources towards untangling this dark mystery and restoring peace of mind to the community.