PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – When police identified the 24-year-old victim who was recently killed inside the DoubleTree Hotel, they said Ashley Benson was a victim of human sex trafficking.
New documents obtained by KOIN 6 News now show she had been involved in the dangerous world of prostitution as early as 2011.
Benson’s alleged pimp
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation and started looking into a man by the name of Latrell Earvin Poston.
At the time of the investigation, Poston was in custody on an unrelated matter, according Christian Day, Poston’s former defense attorney. When investigators interviewed Poston on Nov. 1, 2011, he told them that he was the boyfriend of Benson, court records show.
Records show Poston told investigators he tried to call Benson while in custody, but learned she did not want to communicate with him.
During the investigation, sheriff deputies found a phone number that belonged to Benson. They determined that Poston called the number about 30 times while he was in jail, court records show. The phone number had also been used on the adult website BackPage.com for escort services, court records show.
“Poston specifically requested that Benson put money on his (jail account),” court records show. Benson also left Poston an “Inmate Note” that included an intimate message and her phone number. The message was signed “XOXO,” court records show. It asked Poston to call her the next day, records show. Investigators in 2011 located several online posting for Benson on various websites that provide classifieds for adult escort services, court records show.
Deputies learned that Benson made three deposits on Poston’s jail inmate account on Aug. 1, 2011 in the amount of $40, Aug. 12, 2011 in the amount of $40 and on Aug 18, 2011 in the amount of $50.
On Aug. 11, 2011, court records show that Poston called Benson and asked her where she was. She told him that she was at Lloyd Center mall getting her nails done, court records show. Poston “then said something to the effect of, ‘you don’t put money on my books then I’m going to beat your mother (expletive) (expletive) being that close to the Justice Center and bringing no money,'” court documents state.
Investigators determined that Poston was promoting the prostitution of Benson and another woman while he was in jail, and that the money they put on his inmate account came from sex for money services, officials said. Poston was convicted of promoting prostitution and identity theft because he was using a different inmate’s PIN to make the phone calls to Benson and another sex trafficking victim, records show.
Benson never appeared in court to testify at Poston’s trial, officials said. The other woman involved in the case did show up, but when called to the stand, she took the Fifth Amendment as to not incriminate herself in any potential illegal behavior, officials said.
Poston was 21 when he was sentenced to almost 25 years in prison. Detectives with the Portland Police Bureau said that he was treating his victims as property.
The case against Poston is now on appeal.
Death of Benson
Ashley Benson was found dead inside the DoubleTree Hotel on Dec. 26, according to police. Her body was found in a stairwell on the eighth floor.
Police have identified her killer as Tae Bum Yoon who uses the name of “Chris Yoon.” Court records show that Yoon was staying at the hotel under a reservation of “Chris Youn,” who is a real person who lives in Bellevue, Wash.
Court records show that Youn was supposed to arrive at the hotel on Dec. 26. Detectives learned that Yoon arrived at the hotel Dec. 25 and pretended to be Youn and changed the reservation to match the spelling of his last name. Detectives have not said how Yoon learned about Youn’s reservation.
Youn has been interviewed by police. They determined he did not have any involvement in Benson’s death.
The hotel employees told detectives that Yoon paid cash at the DoubleTree, court records show.
Yoon and Benson had prior contact that led to a meeting in Yoon’s hotel room on the seventh floor, court records show. According to investigators, the meeting between Yoon and Benson was supposed to be a “sex for money transaction,” court records show.
Both Yoon and Benson had met before, investigators confirm. When questioned by detectives, Yoon told police that he contacted Benson after coming across a post on the website BackPage.com. He reportedly told police that it was hard for him to meet women, court records show.
When police searched Yoon’s phone, pursuant to a search warrant, they discovered that there were more than 25 texts between him and Benson on Christmas Day, court documents state.
Police also said they believe evidence found on Yoon’s phone and in his apartment indicate evidence of a large cocaine trafficking operation.
Tuesday, Yoon appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court and entered a plea of not guilty. A grand jury accuses him of one count each of murder and first-degree manslaughter.