By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
October 28, 2006
A mushroom picker came across a handgun amid a pile of men’s clothing near Sherwood Campground on Wednesday — which led to the discovery of human bones.
Hood River County Sheriff’s Detective Gerry Tiffany searched the area after learning about the recovered items. He located a human skull, lower jawbone and either a leg or arm bone. In addition, he found a man’s watch that was still ticking and identification linked to Oscar Avila Perez.
Perez, 45, took a taxi ride from the Hood River Hotel, where he had spent the night, to that isolated area about this time last year. The Clackamas County resident had been on a suicide watch, according to his sister, Anna, and was never seen again after entering the forest where he had previously hunted.
After tracing Perez’ credit card receipts, Tiffany learned that he had purchased a .38 caliber revolver from a local gun shop after arriving in town. The detective would not comment about whether the handgun found on Oct. 25 was the same weapon.
However, casting a shadow over the disappearance is the fact that Perez’ blue 2004 BMW sedan has yet to turn up. He reportedly told staffers at the hotel that the vehicle had been involved in a wreck. But Tiffany said there has been no sign of the car and it is still listed as missing in law enforcement data banks.
“All indications at this time are that we have found the remains of Mr. Perez. But we won’t know until DNA tests are done and the dental records are matched,” said Tiffany. “And, until we can determine how he died, it is impossible to say whether it was from a self-inflicted wound or foul play.”
He said it is likely to be several weeks before the DNA tests are completed and the pieces of skeleton identified.
Tiffany admitted that when he heard about the picker’s discovery, the case of Hood River’s missing woman immediately came to mind. But, within minutes after arriving at the scene, he said it became highly improbable that the remains belonged to Kimberly Oswald Forbes.
The 48-year-old Jeanette Road resident vanished without a trace on Oct. 31, 2004. Her burgundy Ford Explorer was found two weeks later in Gresham. The abandoned vehicle had been vandalized and was believed to have been left in a restaurant parking lot along Stark Street shortly after Forbes disappeared.
During her last conversation with daughter Jennifer, now 21, the night before she went missing, Forbes, who was in her pajamas, outlined her social plans for the fateful day. She intended to rise early and have breakfast at the Wasco Street home of a female co-worker. Then she was headed into Portland to stock up on flannel sheets and other winter supplies.
All probable routes that Forbes could have taken were thoroughly searched, in case she had been involved in an accident and gone off the roadway. Numerous calls were made to her cell phone by family and friends but went unanswered. Tiffany said none of her credit or bank accounts have ever been accessed.
And there has not been a single viable lead that law enforcement officials could follow up on — just reports by a couple of psychics that Forbes was murdered by a known male and her body buried in a wooded area next to water.
“It has been very frustrating for us and very difficult for the friends and family of Ms. Forbes to have closure when there is just no sign of happened to her,” said Tiffany.