http://www.aolnews.com/crime/article/dna-clue-may-end-38-year-mystery-and-starr-laras-pain/19496283DNA Clue May End 38-Year Mystery, and a Sister's Pain
By David Lohr
(May 29) -- Starr Lara has been in limbo for more than three decades, waiting for closure in the case of her older sister, Jamie Grissim, who vanished at age 16 and is believed to be a suspected serial killer's first victim.
Now, as the suspect nears his release from prison, Lara is praying that DNA she recently submitted will yield a match to an unidentified female found three years after her sister went missing.
"I hold out hope that it could be her, because of the height, weight and age of the victim," Lara told AOL News. "Most people have forgotten Jamie, [but] I'll never forget.
"She deserves for the world to know what happened to her. She deserves justice."'I Was Scared to Death'
The mystery of Jamie Grissim's disappearance began some 38 years ago in Vancouver, Wash., on December 7, 1971.
"Jamie was outside, waiting for the school bus to come pick her up," Lara said, recalling the day she last saw her sister alive. "She waiting for a few minutes, then came back inside to get warm. We had a brief conversation, and she told me she was going to walk home from school later that afternoon. ... The walk was four miles, but she felt it would be better than waiting around for a school bus."
When Lara returned home later that day, she expected to see her sister, but Jamie was nowhere to be found. Just 14 at the time, Lara started phoning her sister's friends in an attempt to locate her.
"I was scared to death," said Lara. "She was the only family I knew as I child. We grew up in foster homes together from the time I was three and she was four. Our father had been imprisoned and we were taken away from our mother."
When her sister failed to return home by dark, the police were notified; however, they would not initially accept the report. "Back then, a person had to be missing for a specific period of time," Lara said.
Once it finally accepted the case, the Clark County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation and conducted several searches. Yet each ended in disappointment.
"We worked the case hard but were unable to determine what happened to her," Detective Rick Buckner told AOL News. "We didn't find anything."A Stab to the Heart
As the investigation into Jamie Grissim's disappearance ground to a halt, detectives moved on to other cases in the area. Among them was the March 29, 1972, discovery of the body of 18-year-old Barbara Ann Derry in a silo in Northern Clark County. Derry, who had last been seen hitchhiking several weeks earlier, had been killed by a single stab wound to the heart.
Investigators interviewed several of Derry's known associates, but were unable to develop a suspect in her murder.
Less than two months after discovering Derry's body, police caught something of a break in Grissim's case when they found several of her belongings scattered along an isolated roadway in Dole Valley. The location was roughly 40 miles from Grissim's home.
The find sparked an extensive search of the area, including the use of cadaver dogs. Once again, detectives came up empty-handed; once again, the case stalled.
A few years later, investigators were still working the Grissim and Derry cases when they were notified of a reported kidnapping and assault in the area. On July 17, 1974, a 15-year-old female hitchhiker was picked up near Ridgefield by a man in a blue van. Pulling a knife on her, the man drove to the Tukes Mountain area, took the girl into a wooded area, and hogtied and beat her before he left, promising to return later.
Once the man drove off, the girl chewed through her bindings and hid in a nearby field. Later found by a Clark County Parks employee, the victim was able to provide police with a detailed description of her abductor. A picture of the suspect slowly began to develop.'He Had Done This Before'
There was a striking similarity between the kidnapping and the Grissim and Derry cases: In each instance, a girl was either hitchhiking or walking in a remote area. That similarity was also echoed on October 1, 1974, when a 20-year-old female accepted a ride from a man who later attacked her.
The woman was standing on a street corner in Portland when a man in a blue van offered her money to pose for photos. She agreed. He then drove her to a state park, where he threatened her with a knife and bound her hands with tape before driving her another 25 miles, to a sparsely populated area in Clark County.
"During the time that the victim was with the suspect, he related to her that he had done this before, indicating the abduction and assault of females," a police report said.
The man then raped the victim and shot her in the chest with "hand-honed darts" from a pellet pistol, police said. Afterward, he took her down a remote path, choked her unconscious and stabbed her five times in the chest. He covered her body with brush before fleeing the scene.
"The victim however, was not mortally wounded and after approximately two hours was able to make her way to a public road, where she obtained assistance," a police report read.
Police said the victim identified her attacker as Warren Leslie Forrest, a 25-year-old married father of two from Battleground, Wash., who worked for the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department. Investigators determined Forrest also owned a 1973 blue Ford van.
On Feb. 4, 1975, Forrest pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to rape, robbery and assault in the abduction. As a result, he was acquitted and ordered to complete a four-year commitment at Western State Mental Hospital.A Pair of Shallow Graves
In the meantime, investigators had made some other startling finds. Less than two weeks after Forrest's assault on the Portland woman, authorities discovered a shallow grave containing the skeletal remains of two women in the Dole Valley area. The location was close to where Grissim's belongings had been found.
The medical examiner identified one of the women as 18-year-old Carol L. Valenzuela, who had been missing since Aug. 2, 1974, while reportedly hitchhiking in the Camas area. Police say they believe she was suffocated.
The second woman has yet to be identified, but is described as white, 17 to 23 years old, with long, dark brown hair.
Then on July 12, 1976, another shallow grave came to light, this time on Tukes Mountain. Inside was the partially clothed body of 19-year-old Krista Kay Blake, who had been hogtied with twine. Further investigation revealed Blake, who had a penchant for hitchhiking, was last seen getting into a blue van driven by a white male on July 11, 1974.
Two witnesses told police they saw Blake talking to Forrest on the day she disappeared. That, combined with other items found inside his van, prompted authorities to arrest him.
In 1978, Forrest -- then nearing the end of his sentence at the mental hospital -- went to trial for the murder of Krista Kay Blake. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
But since there were no mandatory sentencing laws at the time, Forrest will be eligible for parole on April 15, 2014.
Last Piece of the Puzzle?
Since Forrest's conviction in the Blake case, investigators have tried to find evidence linking him to the other unsolved murders, all of which occurred within a "general 5-to-10 mile area," according to Bucker.
"It is suspected that Jamie was the first victim of Warren Forrest," Buckner said. "It is [also] suspected that he was involved in the other cases but [we] could never prove anything."
Buckner's department is now focused on identifying the Jane Doe found alongside Valenzuela, keying in on the fact that their grave was located near the spot Grissim's belongings were scattered. Could Jane Doe, in fact, be Jamie Grissim?
Though Lara has provided a DNA sample to see if there's a match with Jane Doe, investigators have not yet announced their findings. "They said they are trying to extract the DNA from her hair, which I guess is harder to do," Lara said.
And with every day that passes, Lara's long wait for answers continues.
"Even all these years later, I think of Jamie every single day," Lara said. "She always protected me, and she was more than a big sister, she was like a mother to me. She would have gone to the ends of the earth and stopped at nothing to bring justice if this had happened to me, so I can do no less for her."