The desperate search for an Oregon woman missing since a holiday hike with her boyfriend has taken a turn after authorities uncovered “some interesting items and clues” amid their investigation.
Allyson Watterson was reported missing on Monday by her boyfriend, Benjamin Garland, who told police they became separated during a hike over the weekend near North Plain, a wooded area about 18 miles northwest of Portland, ABC News reported.
The sheriff’s office said a resident discovered Garland sleeping in the bed of his truck and brought him to his home. He and his father then went back to search for Watterson and notified her family when they failed to find her.
The 21-year-old has since been arrested on several charges unrelated to his girlfriend’s disappearance, police said.
Officers with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said search and rescue crews would refocus their efforts as the search continued on Friday for the missing 20-year-old. Authorities did not provide further details, but an Oregon National Guard helicopter with heat-sensing cameras was being used Thursday.
“I’m not free to say what it is at this point,” Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Morris told reporters during a press conference on Thursday. “Just know that its going to change the type of searching we’re doing.”
Morris told KATU officers would be expanding the search outward into the more heavily wooded area, with a specific focus on spots with dense vegetation.
An estimated 100 volunteers have joined rescue crews in their search efforts. Watterson’s family during a press conference said they hoped to keep the momentum going until they can bring their missing daughter home.
“We just really want to thank everyone, and we want to keep this going until we find Allyson,” her father, Alan Watterson said.
He also encouraged community members to check their property for any sign of a visitor, as Watterson could be searching for “a place to get warm.”
“Please get the word out to anybody who may or may not be on social media,” her mother, Misty Watterson, said. “Let people know that don’t have outlets to TVs or maybe people that just kind of live off the grid. She’s just a very special person, and I will do anything to get her home. Anything.”