Portland Rioter Arrested and Released Allegedly Killed Man, Woman One Week Later

Portland Rioter Allegedly Killed Man and Woman

A man who was arrested for interfering with police at a riot in Portland in June was quickly released and, just one week later, allegedly stabbed to death a man and a woman who lived in the building where he resided.

Phillip Lawrence Nelson, 39, killed Cassy Leaton, 22, and Najaf Hobbs, 39, in an altercation that took place in the apartment where they lived. 

The local CBS affiliate KOIN reported on the murder:

The murder may have stemmed from an ongoing dispute between the victims and the suspect. Leaton and Hobbs’ roommate told police that they were originally renting the unit in a fourplex from Nelson, who claimed to be the owner of the building, according to court records. When the three roommates found out Nelson was actually just squatting there, they changed the locks to their unit, angering Nelson, records state.

On the afternoon they were murdered, surveillance video captured Hobbs and Leaton going into the basement of the building, where the water control is located, according to court records. The pair came back upstairs, but then went back just a minute later. Shortly after that, surveillance video captured Leaton running out of the basement, stumbling and shouting for help before falling down. Bystanders rushed to her aid, but she did not survive.

Both Leaton and Hobbs had been stabbed numerous times, according to the medical examiner. A police officer said he found Hobbs’ body on the stairs, with a trail of blood leading to the basement. The officer also allegedly found a long-bladed knife and “significant amount of blood” inside the basement.


Nelson was arrested two days after the killings.

Nelson gave the apartment address when he was arrested at the protest but also told police that he was homeless, according to KOIN.

Nelson, who is jailed without bail, will appear next in court on September 28.

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