WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – A 20-year-old woman remains missing Christmas Day after she was last seen hiking in a wooded area near North Plains over the weekend.
Searchers including members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, along with volunteers, met up at North Plains Elementary to look for Allyson Joy Watterson Wednesday morning.
It was a painful day for Billy Macy and the rest of Watterson’s family – they spent Christmas at North Plans Elementary School, which is now the command center in the search for the missing 20-year-old.
“Allyson is a free spirit, kind of your true definition of like, hippie,” said Macy, Watterson’s aunt. “She’s our girl.”
About 30 search and rescue personnel from different counties, plus 70 volunteers, scoured the area Watterson was last seen.
“If it were my daughter, I would wish that people would come out and help too, so we’re here,” said volunteer Diane Gudmundsen.
Watterson, a 20-year-old white woman who weighs 120 pounds and is 5 feet 7 inches tall, was last seen on Sunday when she went hiking with her boyfriend. At some point, the two got separated and her boyfriend, identified as Benjamin Hunter Garland, hiked out of the area and was found in a truck Monday morning.
Garland was arrested and is currently in custody at the Washington County Jail for charges that are unrelated to Watterson's disappearance. He is scheduled to appear in court 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Macy says the two have been dating for a few months and have known each other for years. But how the two got there and why they came in the first place is a mystery.
Macy says Garland’s grandparents live nearby and they may have friends in the area, but family members haven’t found anyone who saw or spoke to them before Watterson disappeared.
Tony Morris, the WCSO search and rescue coordinator, provided an update late Wednesday morning on the search efforts.
He described the search area as difficult and not having designated trails. Instead it is mostly rural private properties, so owners have had to be contacted to grant permission for searchers to enter those lands.
Morris said the terrain is heavily wooded, with large bushes and some steep areas which have been challenging for crews.
When asked about how he feels going into another day of searching for Watterson and the chance of finding her safe, Morris said “humans are amazing” and the will to survive conditions is a strong thing.
The sheriff's office Wednesday evening paused the search and said crews would resume their efforts Thursday morning.
Watterson was last seen wearing an orange/yellow-colored hooded sweatshirt, black jeans and brown Calvin Klein boots. She was also carrying a red backpack. While she has naturally brown hair, it is currently teal colored.
Deputies are asking anyone with information about Watterson’s location to contact the sheriff’s office non-emergency number at 503-629-0111.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.