PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The father of Erika Evans, the 26-year-old Austin woman whose life came to an end when she was shot in Portland last year, told KOIN 6 he wanted to get her away from the man who has been arraigned in connection with her murder.
“She was just too convinced that she could save him in some way or another,” Paul Evans said.
Her dad says he never formally met the suspect, 38-year-old Jake Phillips, but he described him as a “vagabond” who had been dating Erika on and off since he urged her to go on a road trip from Austin to California in 2020.
“She met him in Austin,” Paul said. “He knew somebody that she knew, so sort of an introduction. That person who introduced them is very, very regretful of that.”
According to Paul, Erika was “doing really well” during her last days in Austin, until she drove to Portland with Phillips in late August 2022. The following month, she was identified as the victim of a deadly shooting in Wallace Park.
No arrests were made at the time, but the Portland Police Bureau publicly identified Phillips as the suspect in Erika’s death about a year later on Sept. 29, 2023.
In February 2023, a Multnomah County jury indicted him on charges of second-degree murder with a firearm constituting domestic violence and unlawful use of a firearm constituting domestic violence back.
Portland police additionally said Phillips had been held in the Washington County Jail for a separate case since October 2022. He will be extradited to Multnomah County for his other charges in the future before the domestic violence case goes to trial.
Until then, Erika’s family is working to support victims of domestic violence and other grieving families while sharing something that was important to Erika: her art.
After graduating from the University of Austin with a psychology degree, Erika further developed her talents as a contributing writer, musician and painter. But her new book, “Allowing For Time”, centers the poems she created for strangers on her typewriter.
Proceeds for the poetry book will go toward the SAFE Alliance, an Austin-based organization that serves domestic violence victims, and the Christi Center, an Austin-based organization that offers grief support services.
“There’s so many people who are affected,” he said. “It’s everyone who knew her, everyone who loved her, everyone who was involved with her.”