Police: Cold case murder suspect now connected to killing 3 wome - KPTV - FOX 12

Police: Cold case murder suspect now connected to killing 3 women, teen girl

Posted: Updated: Oct 16, 2015 08:34 PM
From left: Latanga Watts, Angela Anderson, Tonja Harry, Essie Jackson From left: Latanga Watts, Angela Anderson, Tonja Harry, Essie Jackson
Homer Jackson, jail booking photos Homer Jackson, jail booking photos

Portland police have arrested a suspect in the unsolved murders of three women and a teen girl, and they believe he could have more victims.

A Multnomah County grand jury indicted Homer Lee Jackson, 55, on 12 aggravated murder charges. He was booked into the Multnomah County Jail Friday.

Cold case detectives say Jackson killed Angela Anderson, Essie Jackson and Tonja Harry in 1983 and Latanga Watts in 1987.

“We’re most happy for the victims’ families, definitely,” said Det. Meredith Hopper, a member of the Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case Homicide Unit. “Just to be able to give them that closure and be able to give them answers after 30 plus years of questions. It’s a good day.”

Detectives in the Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case Homicide Unit began re-examining these cases in 2004, then started working with forensic investigators about 18 months ago to identify physical evidence that could be tested with new technology.

Det. Jim Lawrence said some physical evidence, similarities in the crimes and some of the suspect’s history led them to Homer Jackson. Forensic evidence and other investigative information ties him to the murders, he said.

“Once we got that forensic link, we started to realize we were actually dealing with somebody that was probably committing several crimes that were very similar,” said Det. Lawrence. “Then we found clusters of crime.”

All four women were victims of sex trafficking known to frequent on Northeast Union Avenue, now known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, according to detectives.

Police believe that's why Jackson targeted them.

All the women died of asphyxiation from either strangulation or drowning. Some of the bodies were dumped.

The body of Essie Jackson, 23, was discovered on an embankment at the western edge of Overlook Park on March 23, 1983

She disappeared several weeks earlier.

Harry’s body was found face down in the water near the Columbia Slough in West Delta Park on July 9, 1983.

According to police, Harry was last seen getting into a blue pickup truck on Union Avenue the night before her body was found.

Anderson, 14, was found strangled and partially disrobed in a locked, vacant house on Northeast Going Street, a block south of Union, on Sept. 22, 1983

Anderson, who lived in a foster home, was last seen two weeks before her body was found.

Watts, who was strangled to death, was last spotted on Union Avenue the night of March 17, 1987

Her body was found the next morning in a field next to the north end of the Going Street pedestrian bridge.

Detectives say suspect Jackson was calm and cooperative when he was brought into custody on Thursday morning.

"I think he, in some ways, is relieved today," said Det. Hopper.

Hopper and Lawrence said the suspect spoke with them at length on Thursday and again Friday.

“A lot of times we get questioned, like ‘Why am I here? What is this about?’ And he never really did,” said Det. Hopper.

Detectives say they do not have information he was currently committing murders.

“We believe he may have aged out of this type of behavior. We don’t know that,” she said.

Jackson was previously convicted of discharging a firearm in the city in 2006.

His criminal record includes criminal mischief and burglary convictions from the 1980s and early 2000s, as well as various traffic related violations.

Jackson is a lifelong resident of inner northeast Portland.

His arrest shocked his neighbors, who said he was quiet.

“He didn’t seem like he was running from nobody, nothing like that,” said Beverly Jones, who lives in the same apartment complex as Jackson. “He always stayed to himself a lot. Sometimes we had barbecues and he would come down and speak and stuff like that. Other than that, he seemed like a good person.”

Jackson will be in court to face murder charges next week.

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