Man charged for strangling girlfriend to death at Motel 6

Valerie Johnson, 42, found dead April 21

Joshua Carlson, April 22, 2017 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)
Joshua Carlson, April 22, 2017 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – 31-year-old Joshua Scott Carlson has been charged by a grand jury for murdering his girlfriend in a hotel room last week. 

Police at the Motel 6 on SE Powell Blvd, April 21 2017. (KOIN)

The charges stem from an investigation that began on April 21 after a Portland Police officer drove into the Motel 6 parking lot along Southeast Powell Boulevard and ran the license plate of a green Ford Escape.

The officer discovered the car had been reported stolen, according to court documents.

A second officer came to the motel to watch the car while the first officer began an investigation. As the car was being watched, Carlson left one of the motel rooms, got into the car and drove off, according to court documents.

There was a short police chase but officers terminated because of the high speed.

Police went into the motel room Carlson left from and found 42-year-old Valerie Johnson dead inside. She had a black belt wrapped tightly around her neck, according to court documents.

Officers then learned that a vehicle matching the description of the one that was reported stolen had been abandoned in the 4000 block of Southeast 52nd Avenue.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) responded and eventually took Carlson into custody after he was found hiding on the roof of a house. The house is behind the area where Johnson’s purse was later found.

Police also found a cell phone battery and believe that Carlson removed the battery in an effort to avoid being tracked by investigators.

Detectives learned that Carlson and Johnson had been dating. One person police spoke with said that Carlson had behaved abusively towards her, according to court documents.

When police found Johnson’s body she was without pants. Officers eventually found a pair of women’s pants inside the car that had been abandoned.

The owner of the car told police that neither Carlson nor Johnson had permission to drive it and said it was stolen after he dropped it off to get detailed.

Carlson is charged with Murder, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, Unlawful Entry into a Motor Vehicle and Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer and remains in custody.