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Rachael Abraham’s life was never easy. At 10-years-old, her mother signed away her rights to children, placing Rachael and her younger siblings in the foster care system.
Then, while Rachael was in high school, her white foster parents abandoned her and drove to California without leaving a forwarding address, the Washington Examiner reported last December. For years, Rachael moved from friend’s house to friend’s house, until she met Shay Whitaker while working at a Subway restaurant at 19-years-old. Rachael moved in with Shay and her mother, and life started looking up.
Rachael met Mario Abraham, married, and had three children. Before their marriage, however, Rachael’s little sister Marissa was sent back to Eugene, Oregon, on a bus by the same foster parents who abandoned Rachael years earlier. Rachael cared for her 16-year-old sister, who eventually met a man named Cevelino Capuia. In 2006, Capuia kidnapped a man and shot him. When he was arrested, he confessed to the crime and named his accomplice, Shawn Ryan Womack. On the day Capuia was arrested, Womack took Rachael’s little sister to the Oregon coast and shot her in the head.
“It is very sad that they took my sister away because all we knew and had was each other,” Rachael told a local newspaper at the time.
Rachael, who was of Somali descent, converted from Catholicism to Islam before she and Mario divorced. She then dated another man, who was a Muslim Somali, and had another daughter. After that relationship ended, Rachael began dating Mohamed Osman Adan, or Mo, to those who knew him. Together they had three more kids, meaning that by the age of 36, Rachael was mother to 7 children.
Soon, however, Mo showed that he had a darker side. He repeatedly beat her and threatened her. Fed up with the treatment, Rachael made the frightening decision to leave him, but this only escalated his torture.
Mo knew where Rachael was living, and would break into her home after midnight and punch, choke, and threaten Rachael, telling her he would kill her. During one of these break-ins, he held a gun to her head. Rachael called the police and was told to request a no-contact order.
“When I told him I was leaving him, he told me that he would kill me,” she wrote on that request.
Mo was told to stay at least 150 feet away from Rachael and our children, but he never adhered to the order. On the evening of June 23, 2022, Mo showed up at Rachael’s home and was let in by her 4-year-old – Mo’s daughter. He was on drugs and broke Rachael’s phone, then blocked her from escaping. For hours, he beat her and choked her five times, telling her he was “going to put you to sleep now,” as he knelt on her throat.
When Mo finished, he went upstairs to retrieve his phone, but Rachael got to it first and ran out the front door, calling the police. With a visible black eye, Rachael told police she believed Mo was going to kill her.
Mo was charged with five counts of felony strangulation but was released from jail with the requirement to wear a GPS ankle monitor. Again, he ignored his orders and went to Rachael’s home on July 27, 2022, where he cut off the ankle monitor. He later claimed someone broke into his apartment and cut it off while he was asleep. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, but he was soon back out on the streets.
This time he returned to Rachael’s home on August 11, 2022, and broke in. He slammed Rachael to the ground and sat on her chest while covering her mouth. Barely able to breathe, she screamed and woke up her children. Mo began whipping Rachael in the face with prayer beads before he locked her outside. He was again arrested and charged with contempt of court for once again violating the no contact order.
Mo’s final attack came on the morning of August 27. He returned to Rachael’s home and began beating and yelling at her. She managed to call 911 and could be heard saying “I am not doing black magic!” before the line cut out. The operator called back, but no one answered. Meanwhile, Mo was dragging Rachael to her children’s bedroom, pushed her face into a window screen, and stabbed her with a kitchen knife. He kept stabbing, even after she died, and then placed her in a bed.
Then, he called his mother and told her what he had done, took a shower, and called 911 at 10:41 a.m. He told the operator that Rachael was dead and was told to perform CPR, but he refused. He claimed he acted in defense of his children and had taken the knife from Rachael.
Police arrived and found Rachael’s youngest children – ages 7, 4, and 2 – had been in the house during the killing. They quickly took the children outside before investigating the home. They found holes in the walls and broken door locks upstairs, as well as a large red stain in one of the children’s bedrooms where Rachael had died. In the bed, her body was covered by a sheet. Her face had been slashed vertically, her nose wounded deeply, and her upper lip sliced in half, the Examiner reported. She had been beaten and stabbed before and after she had been strangled to death.
The blade of the kitchen knife was found on the floor, its handle missing.
Rachael’s death was made possible by progressive laws in Oregon that allowed Mo to be released from jail even with his clear history of abuse, ignoring court orders, and Rachael’s numerous statements that she knew he would kill her.
Many people could have made decisions that would have meant Rachael was still alive, still able to hug her and raise her children. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt argued that his office had tried to keep Mo in prison by pursuing what he called a “high bail amount in this case,” which was only $60,000 – or $6,000 since a 10% surety was all that was required to get him out of prison. That never mattered anyway, as Mo was repeatedly released when no bail was actually set until August when Judge Angela Lucero set his bail at just $20,000, which only required a $2,000 payment to set him free.
That bail was paid by Amanda Trujillo of Portland Freedom Fund, a progressive organization that repeatedly posted bail for violent offenders who went on to violate their release conditions or skip their court hearings. As the Examiner noted, 39 of the 67 people the fund bailed out failed to adhere to court orders or appear in court. That means 58% of the fund’s recipients violated court orders – compared to the statewide average of 7%.
Trujillo tried multiple times to place the blame for Rachael’s murder on someone else. She said he had been referred by the African Youth and Community Organization (AYCO), which helps members of the Somali community navigate America’s complicated legal system. An advocate at AYCO, Mohamed Yahia, had been asked by Mo to help him fight a DWI charge in Minnesota. Yahia helped Mo fill out a motion for default judgment. Later, Yahia helped get Mo a job delivering donated air conditioners. In July 2022, Mo asked Yahia to write him a letter of support saying he had volunteered for the AYCO. Yahia wrote a simple letter stating as much, believing the letter was going to Mo’s parole officer for the DWI. The letter also contained a line saying Mo’s temperament had “seen improvement.”
This, Trujillo said, was the endorsement Portland Freedom Fund used to decide to bail out Mo, apparently without doing any independent research, or assuming that $20,000 bail for strangulation charges meant they weren’t that serious.
There was also Judge Benjamin B. Johnston, who let Mo out of jail and simply ordered him to “wear GPS [and have] no contact w/ Rachael Angel Abraham or children.” This came after Mo had already proved he would ignore court orders to stay away from Rachael.
The Portland Freedom Fund has since dropped off the radar, shutting down its social media accounts. It has been called out for its role in Rachael’s murder, and could not withstand the onslaught of online comments.