Authorities in Oregon say they have come upon new clues and information in their search for a 20-year-old woman who went missing after being ‘separated’ from her boyfriend during a Sunday hike.
Police and volunteers have been searching for Allyson Joy Watterson, 20, since Monday when Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies received reports of a missing woman in a wooded area near the city of North Plains.
A team of 100 people, including 50 volunteers, fanned out in a wooded area about 20 miles northwest of Portland on Thursday.
Washington County Deputy Tony Morris, who is leading the search in North Plains, declined to specify what new information searchers had come across.
‘We have gotten information that has refocused the type of searching we are going to be doing,’ Morris told KOIN-TV.
Volunteers will no longer be assisting the search beginning on Friday, according to Morris.
Meanwhile, Watterson’s boyfriend, Benjamin Hunter Garland, was arrested on Thursday on unrelated charges. He remains in custody at Washington County Jail, according to records.
Instead, trained personnel will be conducting a slower, more focused search.
Morris told reporters on Thursday that teams were expanding the search area and ‘chasing down any potential leads.’
Much of the search was conducted on private property. Morris praised locals, saying that ‘the community has been fantastic’ in cooperating and allowing teams to comb through their properties.
He also warned the public not to ‘perpetuate information coming from Facebook.’
Morris said that information being spread across social media should not be believed.
‘If it’s not from the sheriff’s office or the family, don’t give any weight to it at all,’ he said.
Watterson was last seen during the day on Sunday while she was hiking Garland, 21.
He is reportedly cooperating with the investigation into Watterson’s disappearance.
According to Fox 12, Garland was arrested on Monday after he was found near the search area in another man’s truck.
‘He was soaking wet from head to toe and he was kind of in a bad way, so I gave him a ride home to his parents’ house in Hillsboro and didn’t really think anything of it until today when I saw the people out here searching for the young girl that’s missing,’ Ralph Medica told the station.
Garland reportedly told sheriff’s deputies that they became separated during the hike and he was able to find his way out of the area.
He is being held at the Washington County Jail on numerous charges.
He was arrested on five failure to appear charges, possession of a stolen vehicle, theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, according to online records.
Police said Watterson’s family hasn’t heard from her since the morning of December 20th.
‘Allyson is a free spirit, kind of your true definition of like, hippie,’ Watterson’s aunt, Macy, told Fox 12. ‘She’s our girl.’
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office deployed its Search and Rescue (SAR) team to help locate Watterson safely.
‘We have approx. 45 trained searchers and another 45 or so volunteers ready to go. We will also be using drones and possibly aircraft in the search zone later today,’ the sheriff’s office tweeted earlier Thursday.
Watterson is described as a while female, 20 years old, with teal colored (naturally brown) hair and blue eyes.
She is approximately 5’7” and 120 pounds.
Watterson also has a tattoo of an eye on the front left shoulder area along with a tattoo of a fairy sitting on a spider web on her left forearm.
She was last seen wearing an orange/yellow-colored hooded sweatshirt, black jeans and brown Calvin Klein boots. She was also carrying a red backpack.
If you have any information on the location of Allyson Watterson, please contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office through our non-emergency number: 503-629-0111.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ariel Zilber and Valerie Edwards