A year gone by and still no sign

Family and friends brace for an emotional day as anniversary of Kim Forbes’ disappearance nears

October 26, 2005

C. J. Woodward has wept many tears since her best friend, Kimberly Oswald Forbes, vanished without a trace last Halloween.

Woodward anticipates that Monday will be emotional for family and friends of the missing Jeanette Road resident.

The 31st day of October marks the one-year anniversary of the 48-year-old woman’s disappearance.

Woodward plans to pay respects to her long-time friend and confidant who was last seen around bedtime on Oct. 30, 2004, by her adult daughter.

“I would like to think that she’s sitting on a nice sunny beach in Mexico — but I know that’s not probable,” said Woodward, the family spokesperson.

“Never a day goes by that I don’t think about her. We all accept that she is probably not alive — but we continue to hope,” she said.

What has haunted everyone who knew Forbes for the past year, said Woodward, is the “who, what, when, where, why and how” questions that have no answer. And without some answers, she said, it is very difficult to find closure and get on with life.

“This is a year that I don’t want to repeat. It would be nice to think that nobody else would have to go through this, but I know that can’t happen,” Woodward said.

During the last conversation with her daughter, now 20, Forbes, who was in her pajamas, outlined social plans for the next day. She had scheduled breakfast at the Wasco Street home of a female co-worker. Following the morning meal, Forbes was headed into Portland to stock up on flannel sheets and other winter supplies.

She was never seen again.

Frantic calls to Forbes’ cell phone by Woodward and the daughter, name withheld by request, were never answered. And none of her credit or bank accounts were accessed on that day, or at any time since then, according to Sheriff Detective Gerry Tiffany.

The burgundy Ford Explorer that Forbes would have been driving was recovered in Gresham about two weeks after her disappearance.

The abandoned vehicle had been vandalized and was believed to have been left in a restaurant parking lot along Stark Street shortly after she vanished. A male suspect was later taken into custody for that crime but was exonerated of any other connection to the Forbes’ case.

The silence on the case has grown deafening to Tiffany. He said the hundreds of tips that kept his phone ringing last winter have dropped off altogether. One corner of his office is piled with boxes of paperwork related to Forbes and the case that he would very much like to solve.

“We tracked every lead that came in but, so far, nothing really ever went anywhere,” he said.

Tiffany and members of the Sheriffs Office assigned to the Forbes’ case have conferred with other law enforcement professionals. The task force includes the Gresham Police Department, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. But nothing significant, said Tiffany, has come from those discussions.

“It’s just so damned frustrating,” said Hood River Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Tomson. “We are waiting and hoping for that one phone call that will help us solve this case.”

Two psychics, the latest in early October, have stepped forward with grim readings on Forbes’ fate. Both Renee Madsen of Portland and Nancy Myer of Pittsburgh, Penn., believe that she was murdered by a male attacker and buried in a wooded area near water.

An interview with Myer about Forbes’ disappearance will air on KATU TV-12 sometime in November, according to Tiffany. He recently previewed the unedited version of that program, but said it contained little in the way of new information.

One point of interest, said Tiffany, was Myer’s assertion that Forbes had been killed by a local man who was involved in a secret romance with her. However, Tiffany has found nothing on her personal or work computers that hint at an intimate relationship with anyone.

Woodward said that possibility can’t be ruled out — along with many other scenarios — but it seems unlikely.

For one thing, she contends that Forbes did not have other unexplained absences to meet with a mystery man. Her arrivals and departures from home to work at Columbia River Bank in The Dalles were routine, according to Woodward.

She said Forbes was a single mother and spent most of her off-time, when not taking care of chores, with her daughter or a few good friends.

She said that Forbes had a very open personality, so it would also have been unusual for her not to reveal a romantic involvement.

However, because of her friend’s directness, Woodward harbors a strong suspicion that Forbes knew something about somebody or a criminal activity that led to her demise.

“I think that she might not have even known the information was important and then shared it with the wrong person,” she said.

Tiffany and his fellow officers have also explored that possibility from every known angle — but have come up empty handed.

They have looked into the possibility that Forbes decided to make a new life for herself and left town of her own free will. But that also doesn’t seem plausible, said Tiffany, since she would have had to stockpile a sizeable amount of money to start a new life.

Woodward and Tiffany contend it is more likely that Forbes stopped somewhere along her Tucker Road route into town that fateful day and was abducted. Or she decided to skip the morning meeting, which Woodward said would be out of character, and drove to Portland where she encountered trouble at one of her shopping haunts.

Whatever happened, Woodward is convinced that Forbes would have fought her attacker. Since she stood 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighed about 200 pounds, Woodward speculates that Forbes would have been a formidable foe — even if the man was holding a weapon.

“Kim was tall, strong and a fighter. Unless someone used something, such as chloroform, to subdue her, she would not have willingly gone anywhere.” said Woodward.

Last week, she met with Tiffany and Tomson to “brainstorm” on the cold case. Their discussion centered primarily on Myers’ reading, although they could find very few alternate avenues to pursue.

“We just take this a day at a time now. And every day we wonder where she is and when this nightmare will be over,” Woodward said.

On behalf of Forbes’ daughter, Woodward thanked the people of Hood River County for their “generous prayers, hugs, shoulders to cry on and financial contributions.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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