The Washington County, Oregon, Sheriff’s Office suspended its search Saturday for a missing 20-year-old woman after five days with no success.
Search and rescue commander Deputy Tony Harris said a Saturday night that a thorough search of more than 1,600 acres with drones, dogs, and people turned up no sign of Allyson Watterson, who was last seen with her boyfriend by a homeowner around noon on Sunday, December 22, the Oregonian reported.
“If I believed she was in an area I could find her, this wouldn’t be getting suspended,” said Morris. “We’ve just chased everything we had.”
Deputies said a nearly 30-hour gap between when Watterson was last seen and when Don Garland, her boyfriend’s father, reported her missing late Monday afternoon have complicated the investigation, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
— Lashay Wesley (@LashayKATU) December 29, 2019
Garland initially told investigators that his son, Benjamin Garland, and Watterson had been hiking in the North Plains area on Sunday and got separated. He said that he and his son had spent most of Monday looking for Watterson themselves. Deputies, however, said a hiking trip was unlikely as the area is not recreational and consists mostly of private property.
Watterson’s mother, Misty Watterson, later said that the pair had been visiting a friend in North Plains on Sunday when their car broke down and they became separated while going for help. But deputies have said they have no evidence to support that theory either, including no broken down car.
After being seen with Watterson on Sunday, Benjamin Garland, 21, was next spotted by another homeowner, who found him asleep in the homeowner’s vehicle early Monday morning. After Don Garland called deputies at around 5:30 p.m., police responded and found the son near a vehicle that turned out to be stolen. Benjamin Garland was arrested on multiple charges, none related to Watterson’s disappearance, and is in Washington County jail. Jail records show that he’s been charged with four counts of probation violation and five counts of failure to appear, along with new counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, theft, and fraudulent use of a credit card. He pleaded not guilty to the new charges in court this week, according to jail records.
Deputies said that although the search has been halted for now, the investigation is continuing, and at any time, search and rescue teams could be called back to duty.
“We are still working on confirming whether or not she stayed this area or may have left the area,” said Detective Mark Povolny, according to KATU. “By the time she was reported missing into Monday night gives us that gap of those 30 hours and so that brings in lots of possibilities that we just we don’t want to speculate.”
The sheriff’s office also warned the public not to conduct searches on their own unless they have specific permission from property owners.
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[Featured image: Allyson Watterson/Washington County Sheriff’s Office]