Killer Warren Forrest faces new Clark County charge

Crime

Warren Forrest will be back in Clark County court on January 10

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The last time Warren Forrest was in the Clark County courthouse was 40 years ago. He had been convicted of the 1974 killing of Krista Blake, until now the only murder charge he faced.

But an unexpected DNA breakthrough gave detectives the ability to link Forrest to the killing of Portland teenager Martha Morrison in 1974, one of 7 women and teens authorities believe Forrest killed.

Detectives linked Forrest to Morrison’s death after her blood was found on a weapon Forrest admitted using to attack a woman who survived.

That woman wasn’t in the courtroom Monday, but another woman who was 15 when Forrest abducted her, Norma Countryman, was there to see Forrest in shackles.

Karen Gilchrist, whose 14-year-old sister Diane is one of those victims, was at the courthouse Monday to see Forrest. She’s very clear on what she wants to have happen.

Karen Gilchrist, the sister of one of Warren Forrest’s alleged victims, outside a Clark County courtroom where he made his first appearance on a 1974 murder charge, January 6, 2020 (KOIN)

“Justice. And him to be hung,” she told KOIN 6 News. “He should be done as a child predator, too. How come he isn’t being charged with that?”

The body of Diane Gilchrist has never been found.

Clark County detectives believe Forrest’s killing spree began in 1971 when he abducted Jamie Grissim when she was 16. Her body has also never been found but her school ID was found in remote Clark County, near the bodies of Martha Morrison and Carol Valenzuela.

Grissim’s sister, Star Lara, was not able to be in court Monday. But her friend, Dena Rush was there and told KOIN 6 News she was struck at how small Forrest is.

“He is tiny. He is tiny,” Rush said. “You always think that when you’re next to evil you’re going to feel it or sense it. He looks so innocuous. He just looks like he couldn’t hurt a fly. That’s what made him so dangerous, though.”

Family members of the 2 missing girls are hoping prosecutors can get Forrest to reveal where their bodies are, perhaps as part of a plea bargain.

Forrest is also suspected in the deaths of these women: Gloria Nadine Knutson, Jamie Grissim, Barbara Derry, Carol Valenzuela and Diane Gilchrist.

martha-morrison-a-1974
Martha Morrison in an undated photo (KOIN, file)

The judge set bail at $5 million — if , somehow, he managed to post bail, he would be sent back to the Washington State Penitentiary. He received a court-appointed lawyer, did not enter a plea and will be back in a Clark County court at 9 a.m. on January 10.

Forrest is expected to remain in the Clark County Jail indefinitely, where his accommodations will be much less comfortable than at the Washington State Penitentiary.

At the penitentiary the food is better, there are more exercise opportunities and more internal freedom inside the walls than he will in the Clark County Jail.

At the jail, he will be held 23 hours a day indoors.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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