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News / Clark County News

Jury in Warren Forrest murder trial hears recording of accused speaking of motivation for attacks

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: January 27, 2023, 5:24pm

Suspected serial killer Warren Forrest told a parole board in 2014 his crimes in the 1970s weren’t about killing, they were about acting out his sexual desires, jurors heard Friday afternoon as testimony in his murder trial continued.

Jurors heard audio from a Feb. 19, 2014, hearing before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board during which Forrest admitted to the abduction and killing of a 19-year-old woman; abduction of a 15-year-old girl; and abduction, rape and assault of a 20-year-old woman.

Those victims have been identified as Krista Blake, Norma Countryman Lewis and a Camas woman, respectively — the latter two testified earlier this week in Forrest’s 1974 cold-case murder trial.

Forrest, 73, is now charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 17-year-old Martha Morrison of Portland. Her remains were discovered Oct. 12, 1974, by members of a hunting party in a densely wooded area of Dole Valley in eastern Clark County. Her remains were not identified until July 2015.

Forrest has been serving a life sentence for Blake’s killing since 1979, although his conviction left open the possibility of parole. Blake was last seen July 11, 1974, climbing into Forrest’s light blue van near downtown Vancouver. Records show Blake was actually 20 years old at the time of her disappearance.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis allowed the audio recording to be played, in part, so jurors could consider it in determining if Forrest allegedly acted on a similar pattern or scheme.

In the recording, Forrest can be heard telling the board he abducted Blake under the ruse of giving her a ride. Instead, he drove her to an isolated area — Tukes Mountain — where he attacked her and forced her to undress. They struggled. He choked her to death while trying to regain control, he said. He then buried her bound body about 25 feet from where he killed her, he’s heard saying.

He also admitted to abducting the 20-year-old Camas woman, whom The Columbian is not naming, and drove her to a different isolated area. He tortured her by shooting her in the breasts with darts from an air pistol, he said. He raped the woman, choked her, stabbed her and left her for dead under some branches, he said.

Forrest was charged with first-degree rape, assault and armed robbery in the Oct. 1, 1974, attack. He was later committed to Western State Hospital after he was acquitted by reason of insanity.

He also spoke of Countryman Lewis, whom he abducted July 17, 1974, near Ridgefield. There, he drove her to Tukes Mountain, assaulted her and tied her between two trees. She escaped. Forrest was never charged with crimes against Countryman Lewis.

Forrest told the board he offended based on distorted perceptions of good and bad girls. He made assumptions based on females’ appearance and how they spoke, he said at the hearing, from what he told himself and others told him growing up.

“I was told good girls don’t hitchhike. Good girls don’t accept rides from strangers,” he’s heard saying in the audio.

He’s later heard describing his victims as objects, “I didn’t see them as having feelings or emotions.”

A former counselor with the Washington Department of Corrections also testified Friday afternoon he was Forrest’s group counselor in prison for nearly a year. The goal of the group, the counselor said, was to be open and honest about their offending behaviors.

He said Forrest disclosed his crimes against Blake, Countryman Lewis and the Camas woman to the group 15 to 25 times over that period.

DNA testing

Forrest’s latest murder charge came following a breakthrough in Morrison’s cold case. Blood found on the air pistol Forrest used to torture the Camas woman in October 1974 was identified as Morrison’s.

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The jury heard testimony Friday morning from a forensic scientist with the Washington State Patrol on DNA and DNA testing. She and Clark County’s former medical examiner testified that DNA testing did not exist in the 1970s.

The State Patrol forensic scientist testified DNA came on the scene, forensically, in 1991 in Washington. By 1998, DNA testing had made great advances and is what is generally used today, she said.

Jurors also heard from a number of current and former officers with the Eugene, Ore. Police Department, who handled Morrison’s missing-person report filed in 2010. They also testified about their follow-up over the next few years, including collecting family reference samples to identify Morrison’s remains.

Forrest’s trial will continue Tuesday with additional state’s witnesses.