PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For decades Carol Hendon has owned a house at 2723 North Houghton Street in Portland. She died in 2020 but some of her children and grandchildren still live there. Records show several of her kids and grandkids have lengthy criminal histories.
All 5 of Carol Hendon’s children have criminal records. Some have been arrested for dozens of crimes, others have been arrested for upwards of 180 crimes. A grandson with 88 crimes on his record is currently in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
Collectively, the Hendon family has been charged for more than 500 criminal acts and convicted of well over half the crimes, after taking numerous plea deals for things like illegal drugs, weapons, burglaries, theft, sexual abuse, and prostitution.
Officers said they are very familiar with the property. Neighbors told KOIN 6 News they feel like they’re being held hostage on their own block by this house that attracts crime and dangerous behavior.
Neighbors Alex Nelson, Erica Borman, Kimberly Smith, Sonya Radford and Andrew (who declined to use his last name) spoke with KOIN 6 News after the city, county and law enforcement seemingly haven’t gotten a handle on it.
‘Nexus for problems happening all at once’
Alex Nelson noticed issues at the Hendon house immediately after he moved in about 2 years ago.
“As soon as I moved in, I was working from home and I got to see a lot of suspicious characters coming in and out of the house. Then I would look on NextDoor and I would see that some of the vehicles that I was seeing regularly were reported stolen,” Nelson said. “And at that point, I started keeping a closer watch.”
“It’s taxing on our neighborhood,” Erica Borman said. “They have taken over the whole entire block now.”
On the day KOIN 6 News was there, the household sprawl of the Hendon house was capped with a trailer and RV on each side. Several trucks without license plates were seen coming and going loaded with items.
“There’s drug use. There’s fencing of stolen items, harboring other criminals. There’s been multiple accounts of assaults that have all been reported,” Smith said.
“There was a chop shop that was being run there for quite a while,” Andrew said. “And you could see lots of cars that were being taken apart and being stripped.”
Burglaries and property crime are on the rise throughout Portland. After two burglary reports from storage units in Northwest Portland, in February police zeroed in on a suspect: 35-year-old Travis Hendon. Investigative leads drew them to the house, where officers recovered $16,000 in stolen property. Travis Hendon was arrested for burglary, being a felon in possession of a firearm, theft and hit-and-run.
The house “is a nexus for a lot of problems that are all happening at once,” Andrew said.
Some officers told KOIN 6 News they’re on a first-name basis with the family since they regularly respond to issues there.
“Last year, I hosted two detectives that were staking out the house because they were searching for a murder suspect, which they eventually apprehended,” Nelson said.
Nelson was talking about Hunter Irvin Lewis, a 21-year-old murder suspect who escaped from jail in Minnesota last spring. Portland Police spotted him at the Hendons’ house. Court records show Lewis was charged for the deadly shooting of Quaii Snider at a homeless camp in North Portland in August 2021.
“I never thought I would have such close interactions with detectives or have them on speed dial,” Nelson said. “But that’s the reality of living on this street.”
‘They have carte blanche’
The constant crime is not only impacting people who live in this neighborhood.
One of the community gardeners, Sonya Radford, pointed to a written warning on the wall of a shed at the garden: “Do not engage with the neighbors.”
“It’s just disturbing because they own the whole block. It’s like they own the block,” Radford said.
People who bought a garden plot on North Houghton Street now feel the negative effect of the people living next door.
“The thing is you just don’t know what’s going to happen because these people have carte blanche,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I mean, no one’s going to do anything to them, it seems. They act that way. And so actually they’re the ones with the safety net.”
Records obtained by KOIN 6 News show that since 2019 people have called 911 to the Hendon house 201 times for offenses including assaults, shots fired, vandalism and threats. Within a 2-block radius, there have been 316 calls to 911 since 2018.
Police confirmed a handful of other known criminals in Portland frequent the house.
‘Constantly living with fear’
Criminal operations out of homes like this, police told KOIN 6 News, are a cyclical drain on the city. It obviously impacts neighbors but it also perpetuates the fear property crime happening to citizens at large.
“It has been a safe harbor for criminals within the state and out of the state. It’s been proven to us. Every officer I’ve spoken to is fully aware of the family that they’ve been a problem for 30- plus years,” Kimberly said. “It’s concerning to me the resources that are wasted on people who have no intent of living upright, stand-up lives, living a legitimate lifestyle.”
The continued crime and fear of crime takes its toll.
“I’ve been constantly living with fear,” Erica said. “It’s changed who I am. I have a trauma response to most things now and I don’t have a great idea of what’s safe and what’s not because I’m so used to seeing the violence on the street.”
“I don’t feel safe having my kids in the yard by themselves because we never know who’s going to be coming around the corner. You’re never in a state of total rest because you just don’t know what to expect,” Kimberly said.
She blames the Multnomah County criminal justice system for allowing this to continue in this Kenton neighborhood.
“I think the lack of follow through by the DA’s department when they are arrested because we know that they’ve been arrested and picked up multiple times, but they’re never held. It doesn’t seem like things are followed through until there’s a violent incident,” she said. “I think it’s just follow through with the court system and understanding that all of these little incidents equal a big thing. It’s not just the one phone call. It’s not just the one time that CPS is called. It’s a cumulative situation of years and years of them feeling emboldened to do whatever they want and know that even if they get picked up, they’re going to be back at home that same night.”
Erica agreed and added other factors.
“I think there’s been a lot of lack of interventions, generational drug use and poverty.”
Nelson thinks authorities need to acknowledge these are professional criminals.
“I think that they need to recognize that the crimes that they perpetrate are part of their livelihood. It’s their job to do a lot of this stuff that affects the neighborhood,” Nelson said. “And it’s an economy that they connect to all across the city, the people that come and go.”
Neighbors’ biggest fear
The neighbors biggest fear is that this lifestyle will be passed down to the next generation.
“This has been going on for a really long time. As far as I know, it’s a family that lives across the street from me and when I see children over there, I can’t help but think that I know what’s going to happen to them in the future,” Nelson said.
When city officials get involved, they have to stay in their lane, so to speak. For example, code enforcement can only enforce issues like debris, PBOT enforces parking, police can only enforce crimes.
An officer said the house is just one of a number of crime houses they’re aware of in Portland.
In years past, police would assign detectives for a week or more to build a case and catch the criminals to knock down these ongoing enterprises. But the thin staffing at PPB at this time leaves the bureau without the resources to put officers on intensive preventative cases.
KOIN inquired with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office about the family and associates. With their extensive criminal records, the DA considers them “high-frequency users,” which they have two ways to deal with:
ONE is to use their entire criminal record to land them longer prison sentences.
TWO is to connect them to resources to get them out of the cycle of crime.
KOIN 6 News requested an interview with the DA’s office regarding the issue. In an email response they said: “Because of pending investigations associated with certain individuals you named we’re unable to accommodate your request.”
KOIN 6 News knocked on the door at the Hendons and spoke to a granddaughter in person and also talked to Tony Hendon on the phone. He didn’t want to go on camera, but told KOIN 6 News:
“It’s not my job to police everybody around my neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong — everyone at my house is a drug addict. I’d hate to be my neighbor. My family has lived off my mom and dad their whole life. I’m 50 years old and I’ve lived here since I was born. My mom passed away and everyone wants my mom’s house. My family don’t wanna work. Social Security pays them for being crackheads.”
He added he wanted a probate lawyer so they could divide up the house and move on from this kind of life. KOIN 6 News called around and found a probate lawyer that would practically help him for free, but he did not answer or return the calls from KOIN 6 News or the probate lawyer.