Published On: Sat, Oct 27th, 2018

Washington State: Tommy Ross Jr walks free from 40-year-old murder case, arrested again in Oregon six hours later

A bizarre story from the northwest as a 60-year-old man convicted of murder who was also charged in a 40-year-old Port Angeles murder case had his charges dismissed by a judge, walked out of the Clallam County Jail free, only to be arrested six hours later in Oregon on a court order.

Tommy Ross Jr., 60, is now in a Clackamas County jail on $1.5 million bail while the Court of Appeals decides whether his constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated by a 38-year delay in facing charges for the case.

Ross served 38 years in a British Columbia prison after being convicted of the strangulation murder of 26-year-old mother and model Janice Forbes in her Victoria apartment on Mother’s Day 1978.

Forbes was tied up with scarves and a belt, around her ankles and her neck, all detailed in the court documents, detailing her stangulation.

Tommy Ross Jr

Janet Bowcutt, 20, of Port Angeles, was found dead three weeks later in the bedroom of her apartment under similar circumstances. Police found Bowcutt strangled after being hog-tied the same way as Forbes. Bowcutt’s 6-month-old baby boy Jimmy was found crying on the bed next to her, unharmed.

Ross was arrested eight-months-later, at age 20, in Los Angeles, where he was facing other charges.

Ross, who, according to court records, was also a person of interest in another strangulation case in Southern California, was brought to Clallam County, where he faced charges for the murders of both Janet Bowcutt and Janice Forbes, based on fingerprints and witnesses who said they had spotted Ross near both scenes.

Records show Canadian courts resisted allowing Ross to return to the U.S. to face charges in Port Angeles until his sentence was completed. Documents also suggest Ross was given the choice several times to be transferred to the U.S. prison system and face charges for the Bowman case. In every case, court records say Ross declined the offer.

“Our office could have, back in 1979, decided to prosecute him first,” said Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Steven Johnson. “But they made the decision to let him go to Canada first and be tried there with the understanding that Mr. Ross would then come back in 1979 after the trial was over and face prosecution here.”

In a 38-year Canadian prison stint, records show Ross was often combative. He stabbed another inmate and repeatedly threatened and assaulted prison staff.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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