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News / Clark County News

Vigil planned for 2 long-lost women

Families find unity in sorrow that's endured for years

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: November 25, 2011, 4:00pm

Friends and family members of two missing Vancouver women are planning a vigil on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Fort Vancouver High School.

Jamie Grissim was a 16-year-old Fort Vancouver student who disappeared Dec. 7, 1971 while walking home from school.

Carolyn Killaby vanished on Nov. 11, 1995.

The vigil is scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the high school’s parking lot, 5700 E. 18th St.

“It will be the 40th anniversary of her disappearance, in December 1971,” said Starr Lara, Grissim’s sister.

“This will be her first vigil,” said Lara, who now lives in Hillsboro, Ore. “When she disappeared, I was her only family, and I was 14. I didn’t know what to do.”

Lara said she will speak at the vigil, adding, “This is kind of new to me.”

One of Grissim’s childhood friends is also scheduled to speak.

Though the Grissim and Killaby cases aren’t related, Lara said she has been a friend of one of Killaby’s sisters’ for more than 10 years.

An announcement for the vigil said that besides an opportunity for the families to remember Grissim and Killaby, it will be an expression of hope that someday “they can give a proper funeral service to their missing loved ones.”

The public, and other families with missing loved ones, are invited to attend.

Frustrating searches

Investigators have said they believe Grissim was the first victim of a Vancouver man suspected of killing at least six women.

Her remains were never found. However, sheriff’s investigators found her purse and her identification in remote Dole Valley, about a mile from where the remains of two other young women were found.

Warren Forrest, who was convicted of one of the homicides in 1979, is eligible for parole in 2014. He has not been charged with the murder of Grissim.

Killaby was 34 when she was reported missing in 1995. While her body was never found, Dennis Keith Smith was convicted of aggravated murder after traces of her blood were found in his vehicle.

Smith hanged himself at the Washington State Penitentiary in 2004.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter