Warning: Some information in this story is graphic and may be disturbing.
PORTLAND, Ore. - A restraining order filed against a man accused of shooting and killing his wife reveals just how volatile the couple's relationship had become.
Jessie Cavett, 27, filed the order against her husband, 36-year-old Joshua Cavett, a few months ago. In the application, she wrote that her husband beat her at home, had hit her on the head over and over again and kicked her in the stomach. She stated she had cell phone pictures as proof.
But a series of text messages that Jessie said she received from her estranged husband is even more chilling. She stated that on July 16 he sent her text messages telling her he was going to torture her, tie her to a chair, peel her skin off layer by layer and then light her body on fire while she was alive. She said he then sent her more threatening text messages on Aug. 4. It was in August that Jessie filed for divorce.
This past weekend, two months later, it all exploded, police say. Joshua Cavett violated the restraining order his wife had against him and the events that followed would land him in jail and leave his daughter and stepdaughter without a mother.
The series of events began around 11:30 a.m. Saturday when a 911 caller reported that a woman had been shot in her apartment in the 2700 block of West Powell Boulevard in Gresham. When officers arrived, they found Jessie Cavett clinging to life.
The woman was rushed to a hospital and a manhunt began for the suspect in the shooting - her estranged husband, Joshua Cavett. Police had reason to believe he had taken off with their 2-year-old daughter. His 5-year-old stepdaughter had been left behind with her mother.
An Amber Alert was issued and the word was spread about the man who was considered armed and dangerous. About 10 hours later, Cavett was taken into custody after he approached a man outside a home in Gresham and said he wanted to turn himself in. His daughter was with him - scared and confused, but unharmed.
Murder victim Jessie Cavett. Photo courtesy of the Bella Institute School of Cosmetology's Facebook page. Jessie worked as an instructor at the school.
Jessie Cavett did not survive the shooting. The medical examiner determined she died of a gunshot wound to the head. "By the time she got to the hospital, she was on life support and pretty much brain dead," her sister, Jennie Cochran, said.
Joshua Cavett appeared in court Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. He is facing one count of murder with a firearm constituting domestic violence, one count of felon in possession of a firearm (and using the firearm) and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
In a Probable Cause Affidavit filed in court, Gresham police stated that Joshua Cavett's 5-year-old stepdaughter told both a family friend that she had called for help, and responding officers, that "Josh shot mommy."
As far as the restraining order goes, Joshua Cavett also had another one against him from his stepsister. She filed for a restraining order the same day that Jessie Cavett did and said she had also been sent threatening texts by Joshua Cavett. She wrote that he had also got in her face and pinned her to a car, threatened to beat her and then yelled out in to the street that he had "no problem making her disappear."
The restraining orders from Jessie Cavett and Courtney Parkins were filed in Clackamas County. The photo below shows a page of the restraining order application that Jessie Cavett filed:
Joshua Cavett also had a restraining order filed on him out of Multnomah County from his first wife. In her application she wrote:
"Respondent has verbally threatened me, telling me he is going to "put me in my place" if he ever saw me downtown. He has said he will physically harm myself and friends. In July I was sitting on my couch holding my one-month-old baby. We began arguing and he came over and hit me in the head while holding my baby."
"Respondent has grabbed my arms and violently shaken me, leaving severe bruises on my arms. He pushed me down while I was breastfeeding my 3-month-old son and got on top of me while I was on the ground still holding my baby. My 2-year-old son was in the room at the time and crying hysterically while he witnessed the entire incident."
"Despondent became angry with me while I was standing in the room and picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, carried me upstairs to the garage and threw me on the floor. I stood up and tried to walk back downstairs to my kids who were both crying hysterically and he repeatedly pushed me so I could not get back downstairs."
Joshua Cavett has an extensive criminal history - his arrests stretch over a decade in both Clackamas and Multnomah counties. Until his arrest for murder, his recent run-ins with the law were for things like parole violations.
According to police, he is a member of a notorious motorcycle gang, the Gypsy Jokers, who have had a reputation in the past for their involvement in criminal activity.
Jessie Cavett was an instructor at Bella Institute School of Cosmetology in Portland. Once she married Joshua Cavett, Cochran said she watched her sister suffer from abuse at his hands.
"There were a lot of times when she was covering up bruises and marks from him," she said. "He head-butted her so hard that not only did it leave a welt and bruise on her forehead, but the whole back of her head was sore because he had hit her so hard that she fell back against the wall."
Cochran said her sister wanted out.
"She was trying so hard to get out of that situation and then she finally did and he couldn't handle that," she said.
Cochran said she doesn't want to see something like this happen to anyone else.
"To anybody else who might be in this situation, at the first sign get yourself out of the position, because it's not going to change," she said. "He kept saying that he was changing and that he wanted to make things better, and it's all talk. And people who do that, they put on amazing acts. They could fool the world if they wanted to."
"They always downplay it and that's what Jessie was doing," said Kathy Tope a long-time friend. " 'It's not that bad.' I'm like 'I see the bruises on your neck like you're being choked.' It's that bad."
Possible Witness Sought
Police are looking for a woman they believe may have witnessed the shooting. They are asking for the public's help to find 28-year-old Keshia Moritz (pictured at right).
She is about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs around 140 pounds and has several tattoos on her upper chest. She also has a pierced nose and a pierced lower lip.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call (503) 618-2719.