VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — After nearly 41 years, the skeletal remains of a homicide victim in Clark County have been positively identified as Martha Morrison, who was just 17 when she was last seen in 1974.
On October 12, 1974, the skeletons of two women were found in the Dole Valley area of Clark County. One was identified right away as Carol Platt Valenzuela. It would take decades for analysts to determine the other set belonged to Morrison.
Between 1974 and 1977 Morrison’s remains were sent to several experts in an attempt to establish her identity. In 1977, with no ID and all testing options at the time exhausted, the remains were archived and subsequently thought to be lost.
In late 2011, the remains were discovered to have been archived under Valenzuela’s case number. In 2012, tests — which were not available in the ’70s — were given and samples were submitted. A year later, a match was made between the remains and family reference samples from Morrison’s listing in NAMUS, a missing person’s database.
Although the results were consistent with Morrison’s remains, they were still weak and therefore deemed inconclusive.
Having exhausted all other options, experts said the last possibility was to get a reference sample by exhuming Morrison’s father’s body. Forensic Anthropologist David Rankin performed the specimen recovery on June 11, 2015.
The results showed a 99.999998% probability of being related to Morrison.Her story
Martha Morrison was 17 when she was last seen in September 1974, authorities said in a release. She disappeared from Portland but had recently traveled to Phoenix and to the Eugene-Springfield area.
She grew up in Lane County, attended Jefferson Junior High School and Roosevelt High School. She was skilled in sign language in order to speak with her deaf mother.
She liked to play guitar and sing, and did tarot card readings.
Morrison also had severe psoriasis all over her body except on her face, authorities said. Occasionally she ran away, and recreationally used pot and speed.
When she lived in Phoenix around 1973, she went through Job Corps training and met another student who she later traveled with to Portland. That young man is described as a thin, tall, light-skinned African American.
They moved to Portland where he got a job as a welder, authorities said. They visited her mother in August 1974, but she left their apartment a month later after an argument, authorities said.Carol Platt Valenzuela
The other skeleton found that day was Carol Platt Valenzuela, who was 19 at the time of her death. She had been reported missing two months before her body was found hidden behind a log in the Dole Valley area of Clark County.
No arrest was ever made in her case, though a suspect has been identified. The investigation continues.
Martha Morrison’s body was also found hidden behind a log in the same area, Cold Case detective Sgt. Kevin Allais told KOIN 6 News.One potential suspect
Investigators continue to look at Warren Leslie Forest, who is currently in prison for the murder of Krista Kay Blake in July 1974. He was arrested October 2, 1974 — just 10 days before the bodies of Carol Platt Valenzuela and the unidentified woman were found in Dole Valley.
But Allais hastened to add, “All options are open and the investigation continues.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 360.397.2036, or email firstname.lastname@example.org