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Oregon Man Charged in Deaths of Three Women, Teenager in 1980s

by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 

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An Oregon man faces 12 aggravated murder charges in the deaths of three Portland women and a teenage girl three decades ago — all of them believed to have been victims of sex trafficking.

And police believe there may be more.

Homer Lee Jackson, 55, of Portland, was held without bond after a grand jury indicted him Monday in the four cold cases, which go back as far as 1983.

IMAGE: Essie Jackson, Tonja Harry, Angela Anderson, Latagna Watts
The bodies of Essie Jackson, 23, Tonja Harry, 19, Angela Anderson, 14, and Latagna Watts, 29, were found in Portland, Oregon during the 1980s.Portland, Oregon, Police Department

Police identified the victims as:

  • Essie Jackson, 23, who was near a Portland in March 1983. She was no relation to the suspect, police said.
  • Tonja Harry, 19, who was found in July 1983 between a golf course and Portland International Raceway in a waterway called the Columbia Slough.
  • Angela Anderson, 14, was found by a potential home buyer in a locked, vacant house in September 1983.
  • Latagna Watts, 29, who was found near a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 in March 1987.

"These four young women's stories can now be told, and though their deaths will never make sense, the person responsible will now be charged," Police Chief Lawrence O'Dea said in announcing Jackson's arrest.

Several retired detectives volunteered in the investigation by the Cold Case Homicide Unit, O'Dea said, exemplifying its motto: "We don't give up. We never give up."

Authorities officially provided no details of the investigation, but Portland police Detective Jim Lawrence told NBC station KGW that the investigation remains active and that there could be more victims.

"We have gotten a substantial number of calls. A lot of them from women who are still alive and victims of other crimes perpetrated by Homer Jackson," Lawrence said. "We've also received tips about other cases we should be looking at within the city of Portland."

The case "serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that exist for those trapped in the world of sex trafficking," O'Dea said. "Ultimately, I hope it will bring some closure to the families involved."

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