The killings of four women within three months of each other this year and within 100 miles of each other in the greater Portland area have been linked to a man whose jail term was commuted by former Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in 2021.
In 2020, Governor Brown reduced the sentences of 41 inmates, including 38-year-old Jesse Lee Calhoun, for their roles in battling wildfires. In 2019, Calhoun was convicted of burglary and receiving a stolen vehicle and sent to jail.
Calhoun’s sentence was commuted by Brown on June 23, 2021, after it was determined that he “did not present an unacceptable safety, security, or compliance risk to the community,” as stated in a letter dated June 25, 2021, and obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Man linked to deaths of 4 women was granted early prison release by Gov. Kate Brown https://t.co/0xER3AgEMC
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) July 17, 2023
Betty Bernt, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Corrections, Calhoun was freed from the Columbia River Correctional Institution on July 22, 2021, over a year sooner than he was scheduled to be released. Willamette Week was the first to reveal that nearly two years after Calhoun’s release, he has been named a person of interest in the killings of four women.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office did not elaborate on the circumstances behind Calhoun’s identification or the evidence connecting the killings of the four victims. An official from the district attorney’s office stated, “We have not named a suspect,” which was confirmed by Liz Merah.
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It has been reported that “investigators have interviewed multiple people in connection with these cases and have identified at least one person of interest that is linked to all four of the decedents.” On June 30, DA Mike Schmidt formally sought that Calhoun’s commutation be revoked by writing to Governor Kotek’s public safety advisor and general counsel.
“Since his release from custody pursuant to this commutation, Mr. Calhoun has been involved in criminal activity currently under investigation by Oregon law enforcement,” Schmidt wrote. Bernt reported that on July 6 Calhoun was “admitted back to DOC custody” to finish out the remaining time on his sentence, which would conclude on June 9, 2024.
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