Starr Lara has accepted she will probably never see justice for her sister, Jamie Grissim, who was a 16-year-old student at Fort Vancouver High School when she disappeared Dec. 7, 1971.
But Lara hopes to see the man long suspected in her sister’s disappearance convicted of another teen’s slaying.
Lara traveled from Texas to watch the 1974 cold-case murder trial for suspected serial killer Warren Forrest. The trial is anticipated to last three weeks in Clark County Superior Court.
Forrest, 73, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 17-year-old Martha Morrison of Portland. Her remains were discovered Oct. 12, 1974, by a member of a hunting party in a densely wooded area of Dole Valley in eastern Clark County. They were not identified until July 2015.
The murder charge came following a breakthrough in Morrison’s cold case. Blood found on an air pistol that Forrest used to torture another woman in October 1974 was identified as Morrison’s.
The former Battle Ground man is believed to be responsible for the abduction and slaying of at least six women and girls in Clark County in the 1970s, and he is a person of interest in another missing-person case.
“Finding justice for Martha means a lot to me, for her family and for all the other victims, because that’s the closest any of the rest of us are going to get after all this time, 50 years,” Lara said after the first day of trial Monday.
“It’s disappointing, but I have accepted it. Just having this trial finally come about is healing. It’s going to be more healing if he’s convicted.”
Jamie’s wallet was discovered in May 1972 beside a road in Dole Valley, about a mile from where Morrison’s remains and the remains of a second woman, 18-year-old Carol Valenzuela, were found in shallow graves.
Authorities have said they believe Forrest is responsible for Valenzuela’s abduction and slaying; however, a judge ruled Tuesday prosecutors could not tell jurors that Valenzuela’s remains were found along with Morrison’s.
Lara said she knew she would never see her sister again after the wallet was found.
“I knew that day she was never coming back alive. I still hoped, and I still tried to find her. But deep down I knew I would never see her again. Because there was no way she would have been way out there like that,” Lara said.
“I believe that he was the last person to see her, and he holds all the answers. It bothers me that she’s not here and he knows what happened.”