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James Michael ISOM





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Alcohol
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 12, 1986
Date of birth: December 26, 1933
Victim profile: Barbara A. Maher, 34
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Status: Sentenced to death December 29, 1986. Died in prison, 1997

James Michael Isom

Multnomah County - Oregon

Born: 12/26/33

Sentenced to death: 12/29/1986

Isom fatally stabbed Barbara Maher, 34, in a Portland motel room in 1986. They had spent much of the day drinking. Isom claimed that he had little memory of the incident but said he acted in self-defense after Maher and an unidentified man tried to rob him.

Interesting fact: A Korean War veteran, Isom once was assigned to gather the frozen body parts of fallen comrades.

Status: Died of cancer in 1997 while his death sentence was on appeal.


Inmate James Isom Dies

Death Row inmate James Michael Isom died of natural causes this morning in the infirmary at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. He was 63.

The time of death was 4:20 a.m. and was caused by metastatic cancer.

Mr. Isom was sentenced to death on December 26, 1986 for aggravated murder in Multnomah County. He was resentenced to death on October 12, 1989. A death warrant for his execution was issued on August 24, 1992 and an execution date was set for November 7, 1992.

Initially Mr. Isom was not going to pursue any appeals, but changed his mind and filed a petition for post conviction relief on August 31, 1992. Had he not, he, rather than Douglas Franklin Wright (who was executed on September 6, 1996), might have been the first person executed in Oregon since 1962.

In addition to having the longest tenure on death row since the death penalty was reinstated in 1984, Mr. Isom was also the oldest inmate on death row. There are currently 20 inmates sentenced to death in Oregon.



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