The women’s bodies were found in the outdoors in the Portland region in a three-month period this year
Oregon authorities say they’ve linked the deaths of four women whose bodies were found in a three-month period earlier this year.
Though they’re not using the term serial killer, a joint news release issued by nine law enforcement agencies in the Portland region announced Monday that at least one person of interest has been linked to all four women.
Without explaining why, the news release said that investigators don’t believe there’s a danger to the community. Liz Merah, a spokeswoman for the lead agency on the case, did not return a call to USA TODAY for clarification.
Just last month, Portland police issued a lengthy news release saying that they didn’t believe the cases were connected and called out news media’s reporting on the cases.
“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,” Portland police said at the time.
The agency declined to comment about Monday’s development, referring questions to the lead agency, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Victims found dead from February through early May
The first woman to be found was 22-year-old Kristin Smith, whose body was found in a wooded area in southeast Portland on Feb. 19. She had been reported missing two months earlier.
The bodies of two more women were found in April within days of each other. Charity Lynn Perry, 24, was found near a state park east of Portland, on the Washington state line, on April 24. Six days later, 31-year-old Bridget Leann Webster, 31, was found 50 miles southwest of Portland.
The most recent woman found, 22-year-old Ashley Real, was found in a heavily wooded area about 20 miles southeast of Portland on May 7.
Authorities have released very few details about the women’s deaths but said Monday that the Oregon State Medical Examiner had not yet determined how they died.
Perry’s mother told KATU-TV that she was experiencing mental health troubles before she died, most seriously schizophrenia.
They said they wanted her to be remembered for her kindness.
“She always had a smile and laugh that could light up the world,” said her mother, Diana Allen. “She was a person and she was very loved.”
Two other women have been found dead in the region in recent months but authorities haven’t linked their cases to the deaths of Smith, Perry, Webster and Real.