Authorities: Grad student tried to poison wife

COLFAX — Investigators suspect a graduate student studying chemistry at Washington State University tried to poison his wife with nitrogen gas to collect on her $1 million insurance policy.

Whitman County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Jacob P. Forster, 32, on Tuesday after his wife of six years reported an assault.

Forster obtained a pressured tank of nitrogen gas using his status as a graduate student at WSU, according to recently filed court documents in Whitman County Superior Court.

His wife told deputies that Forster placed a cardboard box over her head around 3 a.m. on March 27 and attached a clear tube to the box so she would breathe a toxic amount of gas.

Forster, however, told investigators he was considering committing suicide by asphyxiation in a way that would look like cardiac arrest.

He also said he put the box over his wife’s head and watched a clock with a missing second hand so that she would not wake up while he killed himself using the same method.

“If you breathe in nitrogen it will reduce the oxygen level in the blood and there will be nothing for the coroner to find other than the heart stopped,” Forster told Deputy Randy Zehm.

He reportedly held the box over his wife for 30 seconds before she woke up, court documents show.

“When she woke up, she thought the box was just sitting on her head,” court documents said. “She said she felt it and then had a sense of panic. She did try to push it off of her, but she could not move it.”

Forster told his wife he had been contemplating suicide because he had been diagnosed with depression, and school was not going well.

Forster was planning on attending an expensive dentistry school in California in the fall, he told deputies. His wife said it would likely cost Forster nearly $300,000 to attend. Last year, Forster convinced his wife to pursue life insurance policies.