Forty-five years later, Warren Forrest charged with second murder

Investigators believe Forrest may have killed as many as seven women and teen girls in the 1970s

VANCOUVER — More than four decades after he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1974 murder of Krista Blake, Warren Forrest was back in Clark County Superior Court on Monday morning facing a second murder charge.

Warren Forrest, 70, faces a second murder charge in a Clark County courtroom on Monday. Forrest is suspected of at least seven murders in the 1970s. Photo by Mike Schultz
Warren Forrest, 70, faces a second murder charge in a Clark County courtroom on Monday. Forrest is suspected of at least seven murders in the 1970s. Photo by Mike Schultz

If convicted, it would be the second murder charge to stick for a man police believe killed at least seven women and teen girls during the 1970s on both sides of the Columbia River.

Martha Morrison’s body was found in rural Clark County in 1974. On Monday, Warren Forrest was charged with her murder after new DNA evidence linked him to her death. Photo fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47239749
Martha Morrison’s body was found in rural Clark County in 1974. On Monday, Warren Forrest was charged with her murder after new DNA evidence linked him to her death. Photo fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47239749

Investigators believe Forrest, now 70, committed his first murder in 1971 with the abduction and killing of 16-year-old Jamie Grissim. Though Grissim’s body was never found, her school ID was recovered along Doe Road in a remote area of Clark County. Two other victims, Martha Morrison and Carol Valenzuela, were found nearby.

In 2017, new DNA evidence recovered from a gun Forrest admitted using in an attack on a woman who survived, was linked to Morrison, who lived in Portland, leading Clark County investigators to file the new murder charge.

On Monday, Judge Daniel Stahnke ordered Forrest held on $5 million bail. If he is unable to make bail, he would spend his time before trial in the Clark County Jail, where conditions are more cramped and unpleasant than the Washington State Penitentiary, where he had been serving out his life sentence for the murder of Blake.

Warren Forrest, 70, was convicted in 1978 of murdering Krista Blake. On Monday, he was charged with the murder of Martha Morrison. Investigators believe he could be responsible for at least five other murders. Photo by Mike Schultz
Warren Forrest, 70, was convicted in 1978 of murdering Krista Blake. On Monday, he was charged with the murder of Martha Morrison. Investigators believe he could be responsible for at least five other murders. Photo by Mike Schultz

Forrest tried and failed to gain parole in 2017, telling the board he had given into a “moment of fantasy” and no longer struggled with such compulsions. Forrest has never admitted to any of the other killings of which he is suspected.

Forrest is also suspected in the murders of Gloria Knutson, Barbara Ann Derry, Diane Gilchrist, and Jamie Grissim. Norma Countryman has said Forrest abducted her when she was 15, but she survived. Countryman was in the courtroom during Monday’s appearance.

Forrest is due back in court on Jan. 10 to enter a plea. 
KOIN-6 TV reporter and anchor Dan Tilkin has dubbed Forrest the “forgotten serial killer” and has been closely following the case. You can read more of his reporting on the story here.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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