Pandemic KOs Clark County budget for cold case unit

Crime

Cold case unit had recent high profile successes

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The budgetary considerations that have forced so many people out of work during the pandemic has also prompted the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to shut down their cold case unit.

Recently the Clark County Cold Case Unit has big breakthroughs. Last fall they announced they identified the girl only known as the Fly Creek Jane Doe for 40 years as teenager Sandy Morden.

It tied suspected serial killer Warren Forrest to the 1974 murder of teenager Martha Morrison. Investigators believe he is also responsible for the death of Jamie Grissim.

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The person leading the unit, Detective Lindsay Schultz, was promoted to a different department. That came before the economic hit from the pandemic, which forced the sheriff’s office to move 5 detectives back to street patrol.

That’s a bad sign for bringing back the cold case unit — or its website — anytime soon.

“Without a cold case unit to monitor that, and advertising that we have a cold case unit when we don’t, it’s very difficult to do that and you shouldn’t do that,” said Clark County Sgt. Brent Waddell. Whether the unit comes back “depends on the economy and staffing.”

jamie grissim 1971_182177
Jamie Grissim in an undated family photo from the early 1970s (File)

It was Jamie Grissim’s sister, Starr Lara, who stumbled across the fact the cold case unit was disbanded in Clark County. She recently felt compelled to look at her sister’s cold case on the Clark County website.

“I go there and I can’t find the cold cases. None of them,” Lara told KOIN 6 News. “I kept searching and I thought maybe I’m just not seeing it.”

She said she appreciated everything the detectives have done on her sister’s case.

“I have the utmost respect for them and I know they have compassion,” she said. “For me, I have to keep it out there somehow, some way, and I know the other families feel that way, too.”

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office promises it will still take tips about cold cases and will investigate them — just not with the cold case unit.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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