Missing Oregon hiker: New clues change search strategy; boyfriend in court

 mercurynews.com  12/27/2019 15:51:01   CNN.com Wire Service

New clues have changed the strategy in the search for an Oregon woman who went missing while hiking on Sunday, sheriff’s officials say.

Allyson Watterson. (Washington County Sheriff’s Office) 
Meanwhile, authorities say the arrest of the woman’s boyfriend has nothing to do with the disappearance and that he has given information helpful in the search.

Allyson Watterson, 20, was last seen on Sunday, hiking with that boyfriend — Benjamin Garland, 21 — in the woods near her home in North Plains, about 15 miles northwest of central Portland. He told authorities they became separated.

According to the the Washington County sheriff’s office, a resident of the area near Old Pumpkin Ridge Road found Garland asleep in a truck and took him home to Hillsboro. Garland and his father then reportedly went back to look for Patterson and, having no success, reported her missing on Monday.

She had been wearing a hooded sweatshirt, jeans and boots and carrying a daypack, the sheriff’s office said.

Watterson’s parents say they last heard from her on December 20.

Garland appeared in court Thursday on charges of identity theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He is also accused of violating probation from a 2017 case.

From Tuesday through Thursday, hundreds of volunteers turned out to help law enforcement officials, but the search coordinator said that, because of new evidence, volunteers will no longer be needed.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Tony Morris of the sheriff’s search-and-rescue team said: “We have found interesting items and clues. It’s something that is going to change the type of searching we’re doing.”

He did not give details of the clues, but implied that the new information had reduced the search area.

The focus of our search is going to slow down quite a bit and were going to need to have trained personnel doing that type of searching,” Morris said.

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