1988 cold case murder suspect admits to killing Portland woman

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) — The suspect in a 1988 cold case murder is finally admitting that he killed a young Portland woman.

In court on Tuesday, 60-year-old Walter Wayne Howard faced a judge in shackles to enter a plea in the case of Renee Harvey’s murder.

25-year-old Harvey was a singer and actress living in Southeast Portland and Howard was her upstairs neighbor. Just a few days before her murder, detectives say someone broke into her home and she believed it was Howard. Because of that, she was in the process of moving out and that’s when she was killed.

Two years ago, detectives with the Portland Police Cold Case Unit submitted old blood evidence for new testing and lab experts found a DNA match to Howard. He was a registered sex offender living in San Diego.

Detective Meredith Hopper arrested him and says he seemed shocked that he got caught so many years later. Hopper says today is a very good day for Renee Harvey’s friends and family.

“I’ve spoken quite a bit to the family over the last few days and I know for them, it’s a good feeling to finally have this person take responsibility on some level and have this be over for them.”

Howard will be sentenced on March 30 and he will likely spend 11 years in prison.

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