Times Colonist - - Front Page - SARAH PE­TRESCU

A se­ries of mur­der cases that stretches over four decades and two coun­tries has a ma­jor Vic­to­ria con­nec­tion. At the heart of po­lice files is Tommy Ross Jr., 58, an American cit­i­zen. In 1978, young mother Jan­ice Forbes was found stran­gled in her Vic­to­ria apart­ment. About the same time, Ross was sus­pected in two stran­glings in the U.S. He was ex­tra­dited from the U.S. and con­victed of the Forbes mur­der. He served 37 years in prison. This year, he was paroled and de­ported back to the U.S. Now, he faces an­other trial af­ter be­ing charged with the 1978 mur­der of a young woman in Port An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton. All along, Ross has main­tained his in­no­cence. Times

Colonist re­porter Sarah Pe­trescu digs deep into the Tommy Ross files, and looks at what could lie ahead.

It’s Vic­to­ria, 1978. Jan­ice Forbes, an artis­tic, friendly sin­gle mom is stran­gled to death in her apart­ment while her kids play out­side. Neigh­bours iden­tify a strange man near the scene. An in­ter­na­tional man­hunt leads to the ar­rest of a 20-year-old American named Tommy Ross Jr. He’s wanted in three sim­i­lar stran­glings but is tried and con­victed here and sen­tenced to life. Ross, who is black, in­sists he is in­no­cent, the vic­tim of a racist time and a po­lice con­spir­acy.

Nearly four decades later, in 2016, Ross is paroled and de­ported, then charged with an­other 1978 mur­der, of a young woman in Port An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton. His trial could un­ravel decades-old mur­der cases and pos­si­bly lead to a wrong­ful-con­vic­tion claim in Canada. Or it could put Ross be­hind bars for life, bring­ing long-awaited clo­sure to vic­tims’ fam­i­lies from B.C. to Cal­i­for­nia.

On an over­cast Mother’s Day af­ter­noon in 1978, a young sin­gle mother was found stran­gled to death, tied from her neck to her an­kles in her Queens Av­enue apart­ment while her chil­dren and sis­ter played out­side.

The bru­tal mur­der of 26-yearold Jan­ice Aili Forbes gripped the city, where such sadis­tic crimes were rare, and kept down­town res­i­dents on edge as po­lice searched for a sus­pect.

The key wit­nesses in the case were all chil­dren un­der the age of 12 who saw a man they didn’t know in the build­ing, act­ing strangely.

Tommy Ross Jr., an American who was vis­it­ing his brother in the Vic­to­ria neigh­bour­hood, was iden­ti­fied as the man the chil­dren saw. His fin­ger­print was found in Forbes’ apart­ment. Within a year, he was tried and con­victed of Forbes’ mur­der and sen­tenced to life in prison.

Last month, Ross was granted full pa­role af­ter be­ing de­nied sev­eral times for volatile be­hav­iour. He has re­fused to ad­mit he killed Forbes.

The pa­role board’s de­ci­sion cited a tu­mul­tuous life of vi­o­lence and crime, and grap­pling with racism. It also re­vealed con­cerns over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Forbes’ mur­der, racial bias and abuse in the prison sys­tem. Ross’s lawyer said there was cred­i­ble ev­i­dence to pur­sue a wrong­ful con­vic­tion case.

Ross was sup­ported by a law pro­fes­sor, a woman he cor­re­sponded with from jail, and his fam­ily — in­clud­ing a brother in Nanaimo who of­fered to sup­port Ross if he was re­leased.

Two de­tec­tives from Los An­ge­les and a prose­cu­tor from Clal­lam County, Wash­ing­ton trav­elled to B.C. for his pa­role hear­ing; Ross is a sus­pect in cold-case mur­ders that oc­curred in those ju­ris­dic­tions be­fore Forbes was killed.

The mur­der vic­tims were all white sin­gle mothers, found bound and stran­gled in their homes.

The pa­role board chose to de­port Ross, and he was taken to the Peace Arch bor­der crossing. There, he was ar­rested and taken to jail in Port An­ge­les, where he has been charged in the 1978 mur­der of Janet Bow­cutt. His trial is set to be­gin in the new year.

Ross could also be charged with mur­der in Los An­ge­les in the 1977 stran­gu­la­tion death of Bethel Wool­ridge. Ross main­tains he’s in­no­cent in all three mur­ders.

All of these cases de­pend on ev­i­dence sim­i­lar to that in the Forbes case: A fin­ger­print or some­one who said they saw Ross in the area. The ev­i­dence was enough to con­vict in 1978, but will it be enough 40 years later?

How will al­le­ga­tions of sys­temic and po­lice racism be heard dif­fer­ently today and weighed in a court of law? How will the pros­e­cu­tors ar­gue such sim­i­lar cases in en­tirely dif­fer­ent eras and so­cial con­texts?

If these mur­ders are le­git­i­mately con­nected, could they be the work of an un­cred­ited se­rial killer? And, if so, why did the U.S. au­thor­i­ties let Ross go, leav­ing the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies in limbo for 40 years?

If Ross is found not guilty of the Port An­ge­les killing, which was used as ev­i­dence in the Forbes trial, could he make a stronger ar­gu­ment that he was wrong­fully con­victed in Vic­to­ria?

Most im­por­tantly, if Ross didn’t kill any of these women, who did? Are they still out there?

There was no known re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ross and the three mur­dered women, but au­thor­i­ties ar­gued in­di­ca­tion of a mo­tive might be in the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the vic­tims and how they were killed.

Mur­der on Queens Av­enue

Jan­ice Aili Forbes was by many ac­counts a cursed beauty. “She was so much older, we were never re­ally close but I al­ways wanted to be around her,” said Tina Robin­son, Forbes’ youngest sis­ter by 14 years. “She was so pretty, so cool, such a hip­pie.”

Forbes was the el­dest of five sis­ters and one brother. Robin­son was the baby. The fam­ily came from Soin­tula, a tiny com­mu­nity north of Port Mc­Neill founded by Fin­nish set­tlers in early 1900s as a so­cial­ist utopian ex­per­i­ment. Their mother’s lineage dates back to the orig­i­nal set­tlers and the fam­ily was re­lated to most of the res­i­dents in the vil­lage.

“We grew up to­gether and played all the time. We were best buds,” said Wendy Laugh­lin, an ex­tended rel­a­tive who still lives in Soin­tula. “She was very bub­bly and friendly. I re­mem­ber her vis­it­ing el­derly peo­ple … but not al­ways be­ing al­lowed out to play.”

Laugh­lin said Forbes had a dual per­son­al­ity, out­go­ing in so­cial sit­u­a­tions but quiet and se­ri­ous with those she was close with. “She lived here briefly with the kids and hung around with the hip­pies,” Laugh­lin said. “I al­ways felt her other per­son­al­ity was a bit of a cover to show the world she wasn’t hurt­ing.”

The last time she saw Forbes was in Camp­bell River a few years be­fore she died. “Jan­ice was a very artis­tic and ta­lented per­son … she was beau­ti­ful too, with a heart-shaped face and straw­berry blond hair,” Laugh­lin said. “At [her brother’s] fu­neral I threw a flower and said: ‘Take it to Jan­ice.’ [Hers] is a life that should have never been taken.”

Be­yond an ev­i­dence list from the B.C. Supreme Court, lit­tle pri­mary doc­u­men­ta­tion about the case is pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble. Vic­to­ria po­lice de­nied ac­cess to their files and did not an­swer ques­tions about the mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion while they as­sist U.S. au­thor­i­ties on cur­rent re­lated cases.

The Forbes case was cov­ered by the morn­ing Daily Colonist and the af­ter­noon Vic­to­ria Times, which were com­bined into the Times Colonist in 1980. The orig­i­nal cover­age is archived at the Times Colonist.

Forbes was re­cently di­vorced and look­ing for a fresh start in Vic­to­ria when she moved to the newly built apart­ment build­ing at 1017 Queens Ave. in Fe­bru­ary 1978. Her six-year-old son stayed with her, but her nine-year-old daugh­ter was be­ing looked af­ter by a nearby sis­ter un­til Forbes could find a big­ger place.

Forbes moved into the build­ing in the same week that new build­ing man­agers ar­rived. Bob and Jane Burke were also in their mid20s, and had moved from Toronto a month af­ter get­ting mar­ried. Bob Burke also worked as a bur­glar alarm tech­ni­cian.

Forbes and Jane Burke be­came good friends, and had cof­fee to­gether nearly ev­ery morn­ing. Forbes taught Burke to bake bread, do macramé and liq­uid em­broi­dery.

“She was a re­ally sen­si­tive, gen­er­ous per­son. We got to be close,” Burke said at the time, adding Forbes didn’t talk much about her past. “I never heard her speak ill of any­one, nor did she ever in­di­cate she was afraid of any­one.”

Both Jane and Bob Burke men­tioned that Forbes used drugs. Jane Burke said she saw Forbes use co­caine once, and saw her get a few joints from her sis­ter.

Bob Burke tes­ti­fied in court that he did not like his wife’s friend­ship with Forbes, and did not like Jane smok­ing mar­i­juana with Forbes. “I didn’t much ap­prove of the use of drugs and she [Forbes] ap­peared quite proud of it,” he said.

Burke said Forbes grew mar­i­juana plants on her deck and had showed him nee­dle marks on her arms.

A pathol­o­gist tes­ti­fied that he found no nee­dle marks on Forbes’ arms, al­though there were bruises. Her tox­i­col­ogy re­ports were clear and she was de­ter­mined to be in per­fect health.

In the few months Forbes lived in the build­ing, there had been a rash of break-ins. Cash and a leather jacket were stolen from her apart­ment, while un­oc­cu­pied apart­ments on the first and sec­ond floors were hit in three sub­se­quent break-ins. On April 30, the Burkes’ apart­ment was bro­ken into and about $800 in rent and petty cash was stolen. Bob Burke in­stalled a dead­bolt on their door and posted signs in the lobby ask­ing ten­ants to lock their doors and to be cau­tious about al­low­ing strangers in the build­ing.

Jane Burke said that in April, Forbes was hired as a clerk with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. The day be­fore she died, Forbes told Burke she had found a big­ger apart­ment in a big old house across the street and was plan­ning to move in July with both of her chil­dren.

That night the two friends went to the Jaycee Fair, a few blocks away on Quadra Street, be­hind the Me­mo­rial Arena. Forbes saw a neck­lace she liked and said she’d re­turn Mon­day to buy it.

On Mother’s Day — May 14, 1978 — Forbes had planned a quiet Sun­day at home with the kids, ac­cord­ing to Bob and Jane Burke.

They told the Vic­to­ria Times that about 11:30 a.m., they stopped by Forbes’ sec­ond-floor apart­ment to drop off keys for an el­e­va­tor re­pair­man be­fore head­ing to Nanaimo for the day. Jane Burke later told the court Forbes was not her usual cheer­ful self and ap­peared sad, or dis­ap­pointed by some­one she was speak­ing to on the phone.

Forbes met the el­e­va­tor re­pair­man just af­ter noon. He said later that she seemed to be in good spir­its.

About an hour later, two girls aged 10 and 12 came to the build­ing to visit a rel­a­tive. They said they saw a black man at the front en­trance, hold­ing the in­ter­com phone. He asked one of them if they wanted to use the in­ter­com and the younger one called her sis­ter to buzz them in.

At the same time, Forbes’ daugh­ter came to the lobby, hold­ing a laun­dry bas­ket. She pushed the front door open and the two girls en­tered, then held the door for the man to fol­low.

“I al­ways won­dered, had I not held the door for him would things have been dif­fer­ent,” said the elder girl, Lisa, who still lives on the Is­land. She did not want her full name used be­cause she is still afraid of Forbes’ killer. “Some­times I open the shower cur­tain ex­pect­ing him to be there. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing.”

In her court tes­ti­mony, she said she last saw the man she iden­ti­fied as Ross lurk­ing by the mail­boxes in the lobby but the im­age that sticks in her mind is an ear­lier one — as they were walk­ing up to the build­ing.

“He jumped out of an old yel­low sta­tion wagon. It was as if it didn’t even stop. He was wear­ing a long coat that flowed be­hind him,” she said.

The girls’ tes­ti­mony would be­come cen­tral to Ross’s trial, mainly be­cause their de­scrip­tions a few days later helped cre­ate the com­pos­ite sketch po­lice used to iden­tify him.

“I didn’t re­call the hat but [the other girl] did,” she said. “I knew the man I saw that day. I had only seen a hand­ful of black men but never up that close.”

Dur­ing the trial, the girls were grilled dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion about iden­ti­fy­ing Ross. One said she was not sure, then “pretty sure” it was Ross that they saw. The other girl said she was not sure when asked if any­one in the court­room looked like the man she saw. It is not clear if she was di­rectly asked to point out the man she saw in the court­room.

“I re­mem­ber [Ross’s lawyer Doug] Christie yelling at me, ‘You said this …’ and tears run­ning down my face. He said if I didn’t get it right, ‘You go down in­stead of up,’ mean­ing to hell in­stead of heaven,” she said.

About 1:30 p.m., Forbes’ sis­ter Tina Robin­son ar­rived to de­liver a Mother’s Day card and found Forbes’ chil­dren Kelly and Steven in the park­ing lot rid­ing new bikes. She said Kelly went to de­liver the card but the apart­ment was locked and her mom would not an­swer the door. So she slid the card un­der it.

“We weren’t re­ally alarmed at that point. We just fig­ured she went out so we went back down to play,” she said. “We took turns rid­ing bikes. If some­one had to go to the bath­room they went up­stairs.”

Mary Rob­son, who lived two doors from Forbes, said in 1978 that she buzzed the chil­dren in about 2 p.m. and let them use her bath­room. Forbes’ daugh­ter tried call­ing her mom. The kids played with a neigh­bour’s son for a while and went back and forth to the bikes in the park­ing lot a few times.

Robin­son told the court on their last trip they “saw the man come out.”

“I still re­mem­ber it was a door on the side of the rail­ing. I was on a bike. He came out and jumped over the rail­ing,” Robin­son said. “He was in all black, black coat, black hat.”

Robin­son said she re­mem­bers a neg­a­tive feel­ing at this point. The kids tried knock­ing on Forbes’ door and looked through the peep­hole, saw shoes and heard mu­sic play­ing. They asked a neigh­bour to call the po­lice but she was hes­i­tant.

At about 4 p.m., the neigh­bour came across Forbes’ laun­dry in the com­mu­nal dry­ers.

“She didn’t want to seem to get in­volved,” Robin­son said. So the kids sat in a stair­well, killing time un­til the Burkes ar­rived about half an hour later and let them into the apart­ment with a mas­ter key. The chil­dren and Jane Burke went in first, and found Forbes’ body on the floor in the bed­room.

She was ly­ing face down be­tween the wall and the bed. Her wrists were tied be­hind her back and a dark pin­stripe belt was tied around her right an­kle to her neck — caus­ing her body to be in a bow po­si­tion. An of­fi­cer said she was wear­ing jeans, a white and flo­ral blouse and a light leather jacket. A torn bikini top and bot­tom were found nearby and some of her hair had been cut.

The Burkes got the chil­dren out and called the po­lice. Vic­to­ria po­lice Const. Robert Raap­pana, who was nearby on pa­trol, was first on the scene. He said Forbes’ neck still felt warm, and he cut the belt with a knife but couldn’t find a pulse. He called for an am­bu­lance, but Forbes was al­ready dead.

Robin­son said she con­nected the man she saw jump the rail­ing with what hap­pened to Forbes.

“For some rea­son I had a key in my hand and de­cided to carve his face onto the back door. I don’t know why I did it but some­one told the po­lice,” she said. They didn’t have an artist in town so they got her to sketch an­other pic­ture.

Robin­son said her sis­ter’s mur­der and the trial were dev­as­tat­ing for her fam­ily, “which al­ready had a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties.” Her mother could not cope with the grief and shut down. Forbes’ chil­dren were sent to live with a pa­ter­nal aunt af­ter their fa­ther, re­mar­ried with a new fam­ily, re­jected them.

“I think it was in­cred­i­bly trau­ma­tiz­ing. Life did not get bet­ter for them af­ter­wards,” said Robin­son, who lost con­tact with her nephew but stayed in touch with her niece for a few years.

Robin­son said she has had re­cur­ring night­mares about Ross over the years and checked to see where he was in prison. She said she has al­ways won­dered if Ross was the right per­son, in part be­cause she was so young when the mur­der oc­curred.

“It would be nice to see some DNA ev­i­dence to be sure,” she said. “But who­ever killed my sis­ter def­i­nitely killed that girl in Wash­ing­ton. It was just too sim­i­lar.”

Three weeks be­fore Forbes was mur­dered, a 20-year-old mother was stran­gled to death at home in Port An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton. Ac­cord­ing to the Port An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment, on April 24, 1978, Janet Bow­cutt’s mother went to see her daugh­ter and grand­son.

They were liv­ing in what was then called the Pine Hill Apart­ments at 615 W. 8th St. The her­itage build­ing has one- and twobed­room apart­ments and is close to down­town, next to Tumwa­ter Creek bridge and over­pass.

Bow­cutt’s mother knocked on the door sev­eral times. Af­ter she heard her six-month-old grand­son cry­ing in­side, she called the po­lice.

Two of­fi­cers ar­rived and one kicked open the apart­ment door. The other of­fi­cer walked in and found Bow­cutt dead on the bed­room floor. Her son was cry­ing on the bed, un­harmed.

Bow­cutt was on her stom­ach with a scarf tightly wrapped around her head, se­cur­ing a wash­cloth gag in her mouth. Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port: “The scarf was tied through the cordage around her an­kles in such a man­ner that strug­gle would only tighten the scarf around her neck.” It was sim­i­lar to the po­si­tion in which Forbes was left.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found fin­ger­prints at the scene, in­clud­ing one re­cov­ered from the in­side of a brass and chrome door­knob; that fin­ger­print was later iden­ti­fied as be­long­ing to Ross. When po­lice can­vassed the area, a neigh­bour named Vi­o­let Domi­noski re­ported a black man she de­scribed as sus­pi­cious knock­ing on her door the week be­fore. She later iden­ti­fied Ross in a photo mon­tage.

Lee Meszaros, who lived across the hall from Bow­cutt, said he saw Ross in the hall about 11:15 p.m. the night be­fore Bow­cutt died. Meszaros told a Vic­to­ria court he and his wife had just re­turned from their wed­ding in Seat­tle. He was run­ning out to move his car, which had gifts in­side, to a safer side of the build­ing.

He opened the door to see a man he later iden­ti­fied as Ross stand­ing about three inches away, fac­ing him. He said Ross asked him if some­one named Ducket lived in the build­ing. Meszaros told him to check the mail­boxes or ask the man­ager.

Meszaros then re­al­ized he had for­got­ten his car keys and went back in­side. When he came out sev­eral min­utes later, Ross was still there.

“When Meszaros saw him, the male feigned as if he was look­ing at the mail­boxes (but it was ob­vi­ous to Meszaros that he was not),” said the po­lice re­port.

Meszaros tes­ti­fied as a wit­ness in the Forbes mur­der trial and told the court, “Af­ter talk­ing to him, I fig­ured he was go­ing to rip some­body off,” said Meszaros. “So I went out and moved my car … He was very po­lite, like he had been caught at some­thing.”

Port An­ge­les po­lice said they were con­tacted by Theodore (Ted) McDon­ald a few weeks af­ter Bow­cutt and Forbes were killed.

McDon­ald was Ross’s half­brother and a cook at the ho­tel where Bow­cutt worked — which might be the only loose link be­tween Ross and any of the vic­tims.

McDon­ald and an­other brother who lived in the area told po­lice they thought their youngest half­brother, Ross, might have been in­volved in the mur­ders.

He said Ross, orig­i­nally from Pa­coima, Cal­i­for­nia, had stayed with him in Port An­ge­les from April 15 to 27 or 28. McDon­ald gave his brother bus money to leave Port An­ge­les. He saw him again in Vic­to­ria on May 12 when the three broth­ers were vis­it­ing a fourth brother, Ray­mon McDon­ald.

Ted McDon­ald said the broth­ers went club­bing and the last time he saw Ross was May 13, the day be­fore Forbes’ death. He told po­lice at the time that his younger brother “had a vi­o­lent his­tory and a ha­tred to­wards whites,” the re­port said.

Po­lice dis­cov­ered a war­rant for Ross’s ar­rest in a rape and bur­glary in Los An­ge­les, though they did not say how. Ross was also a sus­pect in the 1977 mur­der of an­other young mother, stran­gled to death at home in a sim­i­lar man­ner to Forbes and Bow­cutt.

A foot­note in the crime re­port

On Nov. 8, 1977, Bethel Wool­ridge was mur­dered at her walk-up apart­ment at 12601 Pierce St. in Pa­coima, one of the old­est neigh­bour­hoods in Los An­ge­les.

Wool­ridge, 36, was a sin­gle mother rais­ing four chil­dren be­tween the ages of seven and 14. She was killed af­ter her chil­dren went to school.

The Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment said she was found “bound with her hands be­hind her back and stran­gled with an elec­tric cord wrapped sev­eral times around her neck in the bath­tub.” About the same time, a rape, bur­glary and at­tempted rape and bur­glary oc­curred in the same com­plex.

Ross had been seen in the area by other apart­ment dwellers and was con­sid­ered a sus­pect.

Wool­ridge’s death was lit­tle more than a foot­note in the Los An­ge­les Times crime re­port. What be­came of her chil­dren af­ter­wards is not known.

Ac­cord­ing to the Vic­to­ria Times on June 8, 1978, Vic­to­ria po­lice said the Ross in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­opened sev­eral other mur­der cases in the U.S. The Ven­tura Po­lice De­part­ment said there were sev­eral un­solved stran­gu­la­tions of young women in Santa Bar­bara, Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les. San Diego also had the March 14, 1978 stran­gu­la­tion death of a young woman.

By mid-June 1978, Ross’s photo was cir­cu­lated from Sacramento to Port An­ge­les and Vic­to­ria. He was iden­ti­fied by wit­nesses in each area. On June 30, the FBI crime lab re­leased a re­port iden­ti­fy­ing the mid­dle-fin­ger print on the in­side of the door­knob at Janet Bow­cutt’s apart­ment as be­long­ing to Ross.

A war­rant for Ross’s ar­rest was is­sued by Clal­lam County, and he was ar­rested by the Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment on Dec. 22, 1978, at Com­mu­nity Hospital in North Hol­ly­wood.

How Ross, a sus­pect in mur­ders in two states as well as rape and rob­bery was sent to Canada to face a mur­der charge is a bit of mys­tery — es­pe­cially since some of the coun­try’s most no­to­ri­ous se­rial killers were op­er­at­ing in Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton at the time.

The Hill­side Stran­gler mur­ders, com­mit­ted by cousins Ken­neth Bianchi and An­gelo Buono, saw girls and women from Los An­ge­les to Belling­ham kid­napped, raped and stran­gled from 1977 to 1979.

Rod­ney Al­cala, also known as the Dat­ing Game Killer be­cause he had been a con­tes­tant on the TV show, was also an ac­tive se­rial killer and was in both Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton state. He pho­tographed and stran­gled his vic­tims, young women and men. He was ar­rested in 1979.

“Some­thing just doesn’t add up there,” said Ray­mon McDon­ald, Ross’s elder brother. “If Tommy was a se­rial killer, why did they let him walk out?”

McDon­ald has main­tained his brother’s in­no­cence for nearly 40 years and be­lieves he was used as a scape­goat for in­ves­ti­ga­tors who fab­ri­cated ev­i­dence.

“I have a lot of ques­tions, loads of ques­tions about what went down,” said McDon­ald, a high school coun­sel­lor in Nanaimo, who has spo­ken about his brother’s case and in­car­cer­a­tion as a learn­ing tool about the ju­di­cial sys­tem and racism.

“When I watched the trial I was con­vinced he would be re­leased. No eye­wit­ness could clearly iden­tify him. My brother and I look noth­ing alike and when I walked into the court­house some [peo­ple] thought I was the per­son [on trial],” McDon­ald said. “Tommy came back to Canada vol­un­tar­ily be­cause he hadn’t done any­thing wrong.”

Tommy Ross Jr.

Tommy Ross Jr. grew up in Los An­ge­les at a time that was not easy for young black men.

The 1960s saw the sign­ing of the con­tro­ver­sial Civil Rights Act, pro­hibit­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion based on race and gen­der, as well as the rise of the Black Pan­thers and the Watts ri­ots, which were sparked by racial ten­sion over a lack of ac­cess to hous­ing and jobs as well as al­le­ga­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity.

“It was ter­ri­ble. Much worse than it is now,” said Ray­mon McDon­ald. “I made up my mind around 14 or 15 years old, I did not want my fu­ture chil­dren to grow up there. That’s why I moved to Canada.”

Ross, born in 1958, is the youngest step­brother in a large fam­ily. He told the pa­role board this year that he was raised in a sta­ble, pro-so­cial fam­ily and that his mother taught good val­ues.

But Ross also said he was sub­ject to ex­treme racism when he was young. He had a learn­ing dis­abil­ity, later di­ag­nosed as dys­lexia, that pre­vented him from read­ing and writ­ing so he skipped school at a young age. The pa­role board de­scribed his child­hood as chaotic and him get­ting in­volved in the ju­di­cial sys­tem be­fore he was 10 years old.

“You said you grew up dur­ing seg­re­ga­tion and gave ex­am­ples of a rel­a­tive be­ing hanged by a mob, black chil­dren hav­ing to swim in ditches while white chil­dren had a swim­ming pool and not be­ing al­lowed to use change rooms in cloth­ing stores. You told the board you de­vel­oped a sense of anger,” said the pa­role board in its de­ci­sion.

“You got in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity when you were young and com­mit­ted prop­erty and vi­o­lent of­fences. You have also ad­mit­ted be­ing in­volved in gam­bling, drugs and liv­ing off the avails of pros­ti­tu­tion. Ac­cord­ing to file in­for­ma­tion, vi­o­lent of­fenses in­cluded rob­bery, shoot­ing a per­son with a pel­let gun and stab­bing an­other res­i­dent at a youth cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity.”

Ross told the pa­role board he stabbed a white in­mate in 1975 in retaliatio­n for the stab­bing of a black in­mate.

Ross said he was in Port An­ge­les and Vic­to­ria at the time of the mur­ders in 1978, “but adamantly de­nied killing either vic­tim.” He said he stopped in Port An­ge­les to see a brother and came to Vic­to­ria for the week­end to see an­other. Ac­cord­ing to po­lice at the time, Ross was a fre­quent vis­i­tor to both places.

He came to Vic­to­ria on the Coho ferry in early May and stayed with McDon­ald, a block from Forbes’ home on Queens Av­enue.

Ross was spot­ted by two women in the area the day Forbes died. The first lived in a build­ing near McDon­ald, but didn’t know him or Ross. She said a man she later iden­ti­fied as Ross came to her Queens Av­enue apart­ment about 11:30 a.m. wear­ing a dark, long leather coat and black hat.

The man asked about places to stay in town. They spoke for a few min­utes in the door­way and he left, but re­turned 15 or 20 min­utes later and asked the same ques­tions. The woman told him he’d al­ready been there and he said he for­got. A news­pa­per ar­ti­cle said, “Her strong­est im­pres­sion of his de­meanour was one of ten­sion, from his stance and stiff arms and the re­dun­dant con­ver­sa­tion.”

When she was asked about iden­ti­fy­ing Ross from a po­lice sketch, “she said she couldn’t re­mem­ber if the sketch was sim­i­lar to the fa­cial fea­tures of the man at the door, but the ob­vi­ous sim­i­lar­i­ties were that both were black and wore caps, and the ap­pear­ance agreed with her rec­ol­lec­tion,” the Daily Colonist re­ported in June 1979.

An­other woman, who was dat­ing Ross’s brother from Belling­ham, told the court she saw Ross about 2:35 p.m. that day walk­ing to McDon­ald’s apart­ment from the op­po­site di­rec­tion of Forbes’ apart­ment. She said he was wear­ing a long, dark jacket and tuque but seemed nor­mal and re­laxed. He went to grab his clothes and she gave the broth­ers a ride to the Swartz Bay ferry ter­mi­nal.

The woman said she was ques­tioned by Vic­to­ria de­tec­tives for nine hours and felt pres­sured to say she saw Ross com­ing from a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. She told the court she alerted po­lice to an­other black man called Tommy Cheek hang­ing around her work a few days later.

“He seemed to know me. It bothered me,” she said. Po­lice did not say if the man was a sus­pect but co­in­ci­den­tally he was the first pick from a photo mon­tage shown to at least one of the wit­nesses at Forbes’ apart­ment.

“He lived in the area and he looked a lot more like the com­pos­ite draw­ing,” said McDon­ald, who knew Cheek. “All of a sud­den this all hap­pens and he’s gone, never to be seen again.”

McDon­ald said at that time there were very few peo­ple of colour in Vic­to­ria, but racism and ig­no­rance were ev­i­dent.

“Peo­ple might cross the road if they saw you or lock their car door,” he said. He formed a group called Peo­ple Against Racism and Dis­crim­i­na­tion. “We held fo­rums and stuff to make peo­ple more aware.”

Wanted man

It’s not clear how po­lice in Vic­to­ria, Port An­ge­les and Los An­ge­les were turned on to Ross as the pri­mary sus­pect in three mur­ders. The tip from Ross’s brother in Port An­ge­les is the first ref­er­ence to a con­nec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to 2016 Port An­ge­les cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for prob­a­ble cause, just af­ter Forbes’ death the po­lice noted key sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the mur­ders: All three vic­tims were sin­gle, white mothers with no men liv­ing with them. They were killed at home with a sim­i­lar sig­na­ture method — stran­gled, gagged and bound around the neck sev­eral times and tied from neck to an­kle. None were sex­u­ally as­saulted. And all were clothed but not wear­ing bras.

On May 25, 1978, nearly two weeks af­ter Forbes was killed, Vic­to­ria po­lice re­leased a com­pos­ite sketch of their sus­pect. They did not re­lease a name but said the sus­pect could be con­nected to the Port An­ge­les mur­der and one in San Diego.

By June 1, Ross’s fin­ger­prints and mugshots were sent from Los An­ge­les to Port An­ge­les and Vic­to­ria. His fin­ger­prints were also sent to the FBI crime lab. Ross was iden­ti­fied by Meszaros in Port An­ge­les and later by his fin­ger­prints on the door­knob.

On June 8, Vic­to­ria po­lice re­leased Ross’s name and an­nounced they were part of an in­ter­na­tional task force look­ing for the 19-year-old. He was de­scribed as “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous” and “prob­a­bly armed with a knife” said a story in the Times.

Port An­ge­les po­lice said at the time Ross was one of sev­eral sus­pects and is­sued a war­rant for his ar­rest. Cal­i­for­nia po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing sev­eral un­solved stran­glings of young women.

By July 8, Ross was the prime sus­pect with charges pend­ing in the first-de­gree mur­der of Forbes. His photo was re­leased, and it was re­ported he had last been seen in Belling­ham around May 26.

“I cer­tainly re­mem­ber that case. It was a big case,” said Fred Mills, a re­tired Vic­to­ria po­lice de­tec­tive. He said there was a sense of fear in the city with a killer at large. “We threw an aw­ful lot of re­sources at it, trips to Port An­ge­les to com­pare notes. It was high pro­file. You have to get a break some­where along the way and we did.”

On Dec. 22, Ross was tracked down at the Com­mu­nity Hospital in North Hol­ly­wood and ar­rested by Los An­ge­les po­lice. He de­nied be­ing in Port An­ge­les at all that spring.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in the Colonist on Dec. 24, 1978: “Vic­to­ria po­lice said ar­range­ments were be­ing made through the B.C. at­tor­ney gen­eral to be­gin ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings in Cal­i­for­nia but Ross was wanted for mur­ders in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, and Port An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton, and it was ex­pected those charges would have pri­or­ity over for­eign ones.”

So how did Ross, wanted for two U.S. mur­ders, a pos­si­ble sus­pect in oth­ers amidst a rash of young women be­ing mys­te­ri­ously stran­gled to death, end up fac­ing charges in Canada? Ap­par­ently, he vol­un­teered. Ac­cord­ing to a Jan. 14, 1979 ar­ti­cle in the Colonist, Ross waived ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings and vol­un­tar­ily came to Canada to face charges, ac­com­pa­nied by two Vic­to­ria de­tec­tives — in­clud­ing Doug Richard­son, who later be­came chief of po­lice.

Both Clal­lam County and Los An­ge­les waived their charges in favour of Ross go­ing to Canada.

At the time, Cal­i­for­nia had re­in­stated the death penalty for mur­der.

McDon­ald said his brother came back to Vic­to­ria be­cause he was in­no­cent.

“He vol­un­tar­ily came be­cause he didn’t do any­thing,” said McDon­ald. “Why would they re­lease him if he was se­ri­ously a sus­pect?”

On Jan. 15, 1979, Ross was for­mally charged with mur­der­ing Forbes.

The mur­der trial of Tommy Ross Jr. be­gan on June 19, 1979, with a packed court­room, tight se­cu­rity and a jury made up of seven men and five women. The trial cen­tred largely on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, a con­tro­ver­sial fin­ger­print on a teapot and the rare al­lowance of ev­i­dence from the Bow­cutt killing. There were no clear mo­tives and no eye­wit­nesses to the crime.

“For me, it was just an­other mur­der trial to cover. But what stood out was the mov­ing fin­ger­print,” said Roger Stonebanks, a re­porter for the Vic­to­ria Times at the time. “I don’t think I’d even heard of that be­fore or since. The prose­cu­tor poured a lot of cold wa­ter on that one.”

On the sec­ond day of the trial, Ross’s lawyer Doug Christie ar­gued the fin­ger­print found at Forbes’ apart­ment was planted there af­ter Forbes was killed — likely by po­lice. Christie, then in his early 30s, would go on to de­fend high-pro­file clients — in­clud­ing a Holo­caust de­nier and former Nazi prison guard.

The green glass teapot, used by Forbes to keep loose change, was not dis­cov­ered by de­tec­tives un­til nearly a month af­ter she was killed. Sgt. Pa­trick Braiden, who was then head of the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sec­tion, told the court he did not see the teapot with Ross’s fin­ger­print un­til his fourth visit to the crime scene, on June 10.

An­other of­fi­cer alerted him to the teapot, which was sit­ting on top of a dresser in the bed­room. Braiden said he likely did not see the teapot be­cause it might have been cov­ered by a scarf.

He tes­ti­fied he picked up a child’s belt next to the teapot on his first visit to the apart­ment the day Forbes died. He didn’t pho­to­graph the dresser that day be­cause some things had been moved, he said. The clear right thumbprint and par­tial palm and fin­ger­print on the teapot were the only prints found in the apart­ment, which Braiden said was nor­mal for a crime scene.

When Christie asked Braiden if a print could be trans­ferred with Scotch tape, he said it could, but would not remain as clear as the one on the teapot. Cross-ex­am­ined again the fol­low­ing week, Braiden said eight clear fin­ger­print points elim­i­nated it as a forgery, which is why he did not have it fur­ther an­a­lyzed.

“I say pos­i­tively that there was no ad­he­sive on that han­dle,” Braiden told the court, and said com­par­ing the thumbprint to Ross’s on file, “it is one and the same, made by the same per­son.”

Christie sug­gested the fin­ger­print ev­i­dence was part of an in­ter­na­tional con­spir­acy and that Vic­to­ria po­lice might have ob­tained Ross’s print on a visit to a former res­i­dence in Wash­ing­ton.

He ar­gued the fin­ger­print was the only ev­i­dence that tied Ross to the Bow­cutt mur­der in Port An­ge­les, which led to the judge to al­low the sim­i­lar case to be con­sid­ered in the Forbes trial. Wit­nesses from Port An­ge­les and ev­i­dence were pre­sented at the Vic­to­ria trial de­spite the fact the orig­i­nal war­rant was waived, no charges were laid and Ross had never been tried for the Port An­ge­les crime.

Ac­cord­ing to a story in the Colonist on July 6, Jus­tice Alan McFarlane told the jury to con­clude Ross was guilty of the Bow­cutt mur­der and then con­sider the sim­i­lar­i­ties with Forbes’ death.

“You will be asked to con­clude that it was the same man in both cases and that the ac­cused was that man,” McFarlane said. “Cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence must not be con­sis­tent with guilt but in­con­sis­tent with any other con­clu­sion.”

Christie said the ev­i­dence from the Port An­ge­les case, “if it had stood alone, would not have prop­erly hung a dog, but is in­tro­duced here to hang a man on an­other mat­ter.”

On July 13, 1979, the jury found Ross guilty of first-de­gree mur­der af­ter five hours of de­lib­er­a­tions. He was given a manda­tory sen­tence of life in prison with no chance of pa­role for 25 years. The judge asked if he wanted to say any­thing, and Ross de­clared he was in­no­cent.

“I have been found guilty of some­thing I did not do … It was the same of Je­sus Christ, he was ac­cused of some­thing he didn’t do. Some­thing was passed on to him,” Ross told the court.

“I don’t know when, maybe to­mor­row, maybe next week or next year, it will come out who did it … Noth­ing stays in the dark for­ever … No mat­ter what no­body says, I am in­no­cent. Thank you.”

Locked up

Af­ter los­ing two ap­peals, Ross served 37 years in fed­eral pris­ons be­fore be­ing granted full pa­role and de­ported on Nov. 10. He was not an ideal pris­oner, ac­cord­ing to the pa­role board, but ex­pressed con­cerns about his trial and treat­ment while in­car­cer­ated.

“Your in­sti­tu­tional be­hav­iour has his­tor­i­cally been poor, al­though it has im­proved in re­cent years,” said the pa­role board in its de­ci­sion.

Ross spent sev­eral of his early years in­car­cer­ated in max­i­mum se­cu­rity with stints in seg­re­ga­tion and spe­cial-han­dling units. In the late 1980s, he was awarded a mon­e­tary set­tle­ment by a hu­man rights tri­bunal for mis­treat­ment by Cor­rec­tions Ser­vice of Canada staff.

In 1988, Port An­ge­les po­lice and a Clal­lam County prose­cu­tor vis­ited Ross in a Saska­toon prison. Ac­cord­ing to a cer­tifi­cate for prob­a­ble cause is­sued to ar­rest Ross af­ter his pa­role, he ad­mit­ted in an in­ter­view that he killed Bow­cutt, as well as two women in Ana­heim and one in Los An­ge­les.

He re­fused to give any fur­ther de­tails un­less the men could guar­an­tee he would get the death penalty.

“Ross showed no re­morse for the killings and stated that if he had to do things in his life over again, he’d do ev­ery­thing the same way,” said the or­der.

In 1995, Ross tried to get ac­cess to his trial files, but was ini­tially de­nied by Vic­to­ria po­lice and then by B.C.’s in­for­ma­tion and pri­vacy com­mis­sioner.

The Times Colonist re­ported that Ross told then-com­mis­sioner David Fla­herty he wanted wit­ness state­ments and mugshots, “at that kan­ga­roo trial they gave me. I’m ask­ing for the state­ments [wit­nesses] gave to the po­lice … I’m also ask­ing for notes by po­lice on this 1978 mur­der. That’s what I want, point blank.”

He also said the thumbprint “was planted in that damn apart­ment.”

At the time, now-deputy po­lice chief Steve Ing ar­gued suc­cess­fully that Ross should be de­nied the in­for­ma­tion be­cause he was a safety risk and could harm le­gal pro­ceed­ings. It is not clear what those pro­ceed­ings were.

Ten years later, Ross was con­victed of ag­gra­vated as­sault in prison for stab­bing an­other in­mate with a home­made weapon in 2003. In 2013, Ross was con­victed of as­sault with a weapon af­ter swing­ing a crutch at a cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer.

Ross was de­nied pa­role in 2007, 2011 and 2014.

The pa­role de­ci­sions listed ex­am­ples of volatile be­hav­iour by Ross, in­clud­ing vi­o­lent out­bursts and lock­ing him­self in his cell with a ra­zor blade to his neck. On one oc­ca­sion this year, Ross be­came so up­set at be­ing told to sub­mit a re­quest in writ­ing (he is func­tion­ally il­lit­er­ate) he kicked and smashed a glass door, then said he didn’t mean to.

When he was told he was go­ing to be sent to seg­re­ga­tion, Ross took a ra­zor blade from his pocket and slashed his neck sev­eral times. He was flown to hospital and spent the rest of his sen­tence at the Pa­cific In­sti­tute Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in Ab­bots­ford, which has men­tal-health ser­vices for pris­on­ers.

He told the pa­role board the first time he as­saulted an­other pris­oner was to avoid be­ing raped, but he was the one who ended up in seg­re­ga­tion.

“You said you had learned to be pre-emp­tively vi­o­lent to sur­vive and you adopted an at­ti­tude that con­doned the use of vi­o­lence,” the board stated. Ross made progress in re­cent years, ac­knowl­edged the pa­role board. He com­pleted two pro­grams for vi­o­lent of­fend­ers, in­clud­ing some writ­ten work, held var­i­ous jobs at the in­sti­tu­tion and in­ter­vened to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble in­mates.

How­ever, Ross’s case-man­age­ment team did not sup­port full pa­role and said his progress was too re­cent to mit­i­gate risk.

His pa­role of­fi­cer de­scribed Ross’s be­hav­iour as “de­mand­ing, an­gry, ma­nip­u­la­tive and en­ti­tled,” but said he had the abil­ity to calm him­self down.

Ross has also main­tained a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with his fam­ily, in­clud­ing vis­its, through­out his in­car­cer­a­tion.

“We’ve al­ways be­lieved in him,” said his brother Ray­mon McDon­ald, not­ing his 84-year-old mother in Sacramento sent birth­day cards and let­ters and hopes to one day have Ross back home.

McDon­ald said years of im­pris­on­ment for some­thing he didn’t do has worn his brother down.

“He’s deal­ing with it the best he can,” McDon­ald said. “I think the pa­role board lis­tened to his con­cerns well.”

McDon­ald said his brother’s bid for pa­role was likely helped by a pre­sen­ta­tion from Michael Jack­son, a law pro­fes­sor and ad­vo­cate for pris­oner’s rights from Van­cou­ver.

Jack­son de­tailed sev­eral con­cerns with Ross’s case, in­clud­ing what he be­lieved was in­her­ent racism in Vic­to­ria in the 1970s and a wrong­ful con­vic­tion. Ross’s coun­sel­lor also said racism was “a real pres­ence” in those days in the prison sys­tem, and some in­mates were treated hor­rif­i­cally.

The pa­role board said it found Ross’s case to be dif­fi­cult and highly un­usual, re­quir­ing non-tra­di­tional anal­y­sis. It said it must rec­og­nize the con­tex­tual fac­tors re­lat­ing to racism and an al­leged faulty po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“There is re­li­able and per­sua­sive in­for­ma­tion that you have been sub­jected to racism be­fore and dur­ing your sen­tence,” the board told Ross. It also said it agreed that there were “se­ri­ous con­cerns with re­spect to the in­tegrity of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

In award­ing Ross full pa­role, the board noted it did not con­sider him be­ing a per­son of in­ter­est in the U.S., but made the de­por­ta­tion or­der as part of the pa­role plan.

If Ross wants to re­turn to Canada, his pa­role con­di­tions re­quire him to no­tify Cor­rec­tions, en­roll in men­tal-health coun­selling, take med­i­ca­tion and re­side at an ap­proved res­i­dence.

McDon­ald said he had of­fered to have his brother live with him in Nanaimo if he wasn’t de­ported. If Ross is re­leased in the U.S., he told the pa­role board, he’d like to live with his mother and would be el­i­gi­ble for so­cial as­sis­tance be­cause of his learn­ing dis­abil­ity.

He also has a girl­friend who sup­ports him.

“He can’t read or write, but he’s one of the smartest peo­ple I’ve met,” said McDon­ald. “He un­der­stands a lot of things about life.”

The next chap­ter

Since he was de­ported and ar­rested in the Bow­cutt mur­der, Ross has been in jail in Port An­ge­les. His bail was set at $1.5 mil­lion and he was for­mally charged with killing Bow­cutt on Dec. 2.

He ap­peared in court shack­led at the wrists and waist, with one pub­lic de­fender bow­ing out be­cause of a con­flict of in­ter­est with a po­ten­tial wit­ness and an­other step­ping in a week later.

Clal­lam County brought former elected pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney Deb­o­rah Kelly back from re­tire­ment to han­dle the case be­cause of her his­tory with com­plex homi­cide cases such as the one in­volv­ing Darold Ray Sten­son.

Sten­son was con­victed of killing his wife and busi­ness part­ner in 1994 and sen­tenced to death. Just eight days be­fore Sten­son was sched­uled to die, his ex­e­cu­tion was stayed and the ver­dict over­turned, and he was awarded a new trial. In 2013, he was again found guilty and sen­tenced to two life terms.

Kelly is be­ing as­sisted by Clal­lam County deputy prose­cu­tor John Troberg, who trav­elled to Canada for Ross’s re­lease and has been work­ing with Los An­ge­les de­tec­tives still in­ter­ested in Ross as a sus­pect in the killing of Bethel Wool­ridge.

“This is still an open in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Det. Ken­neth White of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment un­solved homi­cide unit. “We’re very in­ter­ested in speak­ing to Mr. Ross.”

White could not say if they had foren­sic ev­i­dence link­ing Ross to Wool­ridge’s death or if any of her chil­dren or fam­ily are around, wait­ing to find out who bru­tally killed their mother 39 years ago.

In Port An­ge­les, prose­cu­tor Kelly said the ex­pec­ta­tions of ju­ries are dif­fer­ent today than they might have been in 1978.

“Foren­sic shows like CSI def­i­nitely raise ex­pec­ta­tions for ev­i­dence,” said Kelly, who is ex­pected to in­tro­duce DNA ev­i­dence for the first time in the mur­ders, us­ing nail clip­pings. “It’s also pos­si­ble tests run then are not done to pro­to­cols today,” she said.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice Det. Keith Lind­ner said that while mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tions are much dif­fer­ent now than in the 1970s, due to chang­ing tech­nol­ogy and le­gal thresh­olds, fin­ger­print ev­i­dence is much the same.

“The ba­sic con­cept is the same,” said Lind­ner, adding pat­tern and points are still used to an­a­lyze prints. “Now we use scan­ners in­stead of ink pads,” and prints can be stored and searched elec­tron­i­cally in­stead of on in­dex cards.

Kelly said more in­ves­ti­ga­tion is needed, but the Bow­cutt mur­der is still a vi­able case, al­though there are unique chal­lenges with a case nearly 40 years old.

“Some of the peo­ple who gave state­ments then are de­ceased,” she said.

Lane Wolfley, Ross’s cour­tap­pointed lawyer who spe­cial­izes in per­sonal-in­jury law but also does crim­i­nal de­fence, said some wit­nesses will still be avail­able.

“I rec­og­nized a few names on the list as peo­ple around town,” he said.

“He’s adamant he’s in­no­cent,” Wolfley said. “We’re gear­ing up for a trial.”

The trial of Tommy Ross Jr. for the mur­der of Janet Bow­cutt in 1978 is ex­pected to be­gin on Jan. 30.

The Mat­squi Com­plex in Ab­bots­ford is home to sev­eral Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice in­sti­tutes, in­clud­ing the Pa­cific In­sti­tu­tion where Tommy Ross spent the last part of his sen­tence for the mur­der of Jan­ice Forbes.

Po­lice artist’s sketch of the Forbes mur­der sus­pect, top, and Tommy Ross Jr.’s book­ing mugshot, be­low.

Jan­ice Forbes’ death cer­tifi­cate.

The Pine Hill Apart­ments at 615 W. 8th St. in Port An­ge­les, where Janet Bow­cutt was killed on April 24, 1978. Tommy Ross was a sus­pect in her death.

1017 Queens Ave. in Vic­to­ria, where Jan­ice Forbes was killed on May 14, 1978.

Tommy Ross Jr., right, sits with at­tor­neys Harry Gas­nick, left, and John Hay­den dur­ing Ross’s first ap­pear­ance in Clal­lam County Su­pe­rior Court in Novem­ber, in con­nec­tion with the 1978 mur­der of Janet Bow­cutt.

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