Washington state

Bellingham man drove around with woman’s dead body for five days, police say

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A Bellingham man drove around with a dead woman in a rental car for five days in late August before her body was found several days later abandoned in the same car in the York neighborhood — more than a week after she died.

Forrest McDonald Grove, 36, was cited for failing to notify the medical examiner of human remains, a misdemeanor. Grove pleaded not guilty to the charge on Nov. 20, and his trial is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 28 in Whatcom County District Court, according to court records.

The blanket-covered body of 37-year-old Anita Kumari Bisnett was found in the passenger seat of a rented gold Infiniti SUV on Aug. 28 near the Lincoln Creek Condominiums by nearby construction workers who called Bellingham police, Lt. Claudia Murphy said in an email Tuesday to The Bellingham Herald.

Murphy said Bisnett, of Seattle, likely died on Aug. 20 or 21 seated in the same passenger seat of the SUV she was found in. Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel said the cause and manner of Bisnett’s death are pending until toxicology results are returned, which can take up to six months.

Foul play or violence is not suspected in Bisnett’s death, Murphy said.

Grove, Bisnett and their group of friends are known to police for prior and ongoing drug activity and had been seen together in the months prior to Bisnett’s death, Murphy said. Bisnett had been too ill to drive herself around and Grove was seen driving her on multiple occasions in the SUV, Murphy said.

On the day before Bisnett likely died, Bellingham police stopped Grove’s vehicle twice, including at least once with Bisnett in the car, records show. Officers reported she was alive at that time, Murphy said.

On Sept. 24, Bellingham police became aware that Grove was allegedly using the identity of his former friend Robert Calderwood, causing warrants to be issued for Calderwood’s arrest. Police reviewed body camera footage of numerous contacts with Grove in which he used Calderwood’s identity, records show.

Grove was stopped by police at least five times between June 22 and Aug. 19, with Grove using Calderwood’s name each time, including once when he was detained for theft at a hardware store, records show.

Police believe Grove used Calderwood’s name to avoid being arrested or issued new traffic citations, as Grove had a warrant out for his arrest and an ignition interlock requirement, records show.

An officer who stopped Grove at around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 said Bisnett was alive at the time and in the passenger seat, but was too sick to drive, Murphy said.

Grove told police that at some point on Aug. 20 or 21, he left Bisnett in the car while he went to search for narcotics, Murphy said in an email.

When he came back, she was dead.

Grove did not tell anyone she died and proceeded to drive around with her body in the passenger seat for the next five days, Murphy said. During that time, on Aug. 21, Grove allegedly drove to the Whatcom County Jail, with Bisnett’s body in the car, to pick up a friend who was being released, Murphy said.

Grove then left the car and Bisnett’s body in the 900 block of Gladstone Street until it was discovered around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 28, records show. Grove told police he wasn’t sure when Bisnett died or when he left the SUV on Gladstone, Murphy said.

Grove was arrested for outstanding warrants on Sept. 28. He was temporarily released from jail for drug treatment in mid-October. He was cited for failing to notify the medical examiner on Nov. 8.

In addition to the citation for failing to notify the medical examiner, Grove is facing four counts of first-degree criminal impersonation for using Calderwood’s identity.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt ; David Rasbach: 360-715-2286