NORTH PLAINS, Oregon – During its third week, the search for a missing Oregon woman has been suspended in a specific area.
However, Rescue commander Tony Morris of the Washington County Sheriff's Office announced Saturday that it is suspending the active search for Allyson Watterson, a 20-year-old woman who has been missing for nearly a week. However, police are still searching in other areas.
"If I believed she was in an area I could find her, this wouldn't be getting suspended," said Morris on Saturday evening. "We've just chased everything we had."
Povolny said that even though they were suspending the immediate search of the area, members of the public should not go out and search those areas for Watterson on their own. All the areas they've been searching are private property, he said.
20-year-old Allyson Joy Watterson was last seen on Sunday, December 22 near North Plains, Oregon.
Washington County Detective Mark Povolny said there had been a 30-hour delay between the time Watterson was last seen and the time she was reported missing.
"We're trying to put together what happened during that time." Povolny said. "She may no longer be in that area. Rescue crews are continuing to search in the same area, off Old Pumpkin Ridge Road in North Plains, but the time delay might mean Watterson could no longer be in the area.
Povolny also said police have received reports that either Watterson or her boyfriend, Benjamin Garland, might have knocked on a door in that area around midnight on Sunday.
Searchers are looking for information regarding Watterson's cellphone. Povolny said that about a month ago, someone gave a cellphone to Watterson's mother, Misty Watterson, who then gave the phone to her daughter. Povolny said police want to know who owned the phone before Allyson and Misty Watterson, because they believe that might give them information about the cellphone provider and access data that could help them track the location of the phone.
Meanwhile, Povolny said officials are trying to put together a timeline of what happened between Watterson's disappearance and when she was reported missing.
Povolny said a homeowner in the North Plains area reported seeing Watterson and Garland shortly before noon on Sunday. Watterson has not been seen since. Another homeowner in the area found Garland asleep in his truck Monday morning, and around 5:30 p.m. that day, Garland's father, Don Garland, reported Watterson missing.
According to Deputy Brian van Kleef, Don Garland said he and his son had spent that day searching for Watterson and were unsuccessful.
The sheriff's office earlier in the day had said they have no evidence that Watterson and her boyfriend were hiking in the North Plains area where she was last seen, a complete change from their initial reports about the woman's disappearance.
For days, the sheriff's office maintained that Watterson, 20, and Benjamin Hunter Garland were traversing the rugged and privately owned woods off Old Pumpkin Ridge Road on Sunday when they became separated — an account officials are now saying came from Don Garland.
The two men were at first reluctant to make an official report because Benjamin Garland had multiple outstanding warrants for his arrest, van Kleef said.
When he finally contacted authorities, Don Garland said his son and Watterson had been on a hike together before losing each other, according to the sheriff's office.
"We've never been able to verify this narrative," van Kleef said of the incident he'd described in a news release sent to reporters Tuesday.
Povolny said they were still trying to find additional information regarding the area the two were and what they were doing prior to Watterson's disappearance.
"This isn't open area. I wouldn't expect them to just be out here hiking," Deputy Tony Morris said during a news conference as searchers spent a fourth day looking for the missing woman. "If I knew exactly what they were doing it would probably help me in my job."
Misty Watterson, Allyson's mother, told reporters Friday that her daughter and Benjamin Garland had been in North Plains to visit a friend when their car broke down.
he two got separated as they left to go get help, Misty Watterson said.
"That's why they were out here," she said. "They weren't out here doing bad stuff."
Van Kleef said the sheriff's office has no evidence of this, either.
"We don't know what they were doing out there," said van Kleef. "We certainly don't have a broken-down car."
Benjamin Garland was arrested Tuesday on unrelated charges and pleaded not guilty in a Washington County court to charges of theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Watterson is about 5-foot-7 and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, black jeans and brown Calvin Klein boots when last seen, the sheriff's office said. Watterson also had a red backpack with her.
Lower photo of Benjamin Hunter Garland, the boyfriend of Allyson Joy Watterson was arrested on unrelated charges
Photo 1: Allyson Joy Watterson