Cold case: Young mother found dead in park weeks after disappear - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold case: Young mother found dead in park weeks after disappearance

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Overlook Park offers a beautiful view of Portland's west hills, but on March 23, 1983, all the attention was on the steep embankment along the park's western edge.

That's where a passerby spotted the body of Essie Jackson, 23, who disappeared weeks earlier.

She was strangled to death and police believe the killer dumped her body at the park.

The young mother was hidden among a thicket of blackberry bushes, in an area so steep firefighters had to bring ropes for police to use in order to reach her.

“Evidence shows Essie was most likely on that embankment for a long period of time between her disappearance and her recovery,” said Det. Eric McDaniel, of the Portland Police Bureau's Cold Case Homicide Unit.

The crime is still unsolved.

Investigators need tips from the community to bring Jackson's killer to justice.

“I believe somebody knows and more than one person probably knows,” said McDaniel. “I think the answers out there. I believe somebody other than the killer knows what happened to Essie. It's just that one lead we need.”

McDaniel reviewed case details with Fox 12.

He said Jackson had started working as a prostitute in Portland a few months before she was killed.

Police also suspect she worked as a prostitute during a trip to Seattle, the night before she disappeared.

She was last seen on Feb. 13, 1983.

That night, Jackson was spotted at the Last Hurrah Lounge in downtown Portland.

“She told an associate she ran into a fellow in the bar that she had met in Seattle and it made her uncomfortable that she saw this man,” said McDaniel.

That associated dropped off Jackson near Northeast Union, now known as Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Northeast Failing Street.

Police suspect she worked as a prostitute in the area that night.

Police would like to hear from anyone who saw Jackson in Seattle, at the Last Hurrah Lounge or on NE Union Avenue.

Jackson had a new boyfriend, who was cooperative with investigators, he said.

She also had a 4-year-old son.

If you have any information in this case, contact Det. Eric McDaniel at or (503) 823-0230.

If you have any information about this crime, you can call Portland police at 503-823-0000 or leave a tip on the Portland police website.

You can also leave a Crime Stoppers tip online at, text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip, or call 503-823-HELP (4357) and leave your tip information.

Visit to download the Crime Stoppers app for the iPhone or Droid.

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