New clues in search for Oregon woman who vanished during hike with boyfriend, police say

Allyson Watterson, 20, was reported missing on Monday.

December 26, 2019, 10:53 PM

Police said they discovered new "items and clues" on Thursday while searching for a young Oregon woman who vanished while hiking with her boyfriend before Christmas.

Allyson Watterson, 20, was reported missing on Monday, a day after her boyfriend claimed they became separated while hiking in a wooded area near North Plains, about 18 miles northwest of Portland, police said. Her boyfriend, 21-year-old Benjamin Garland, was later arrested on several charges unrelated to her disappearance, according to police.

Officers with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said search and rescue crews would refocus their efforts on Friday morning thanks to new evidence, but they did not offer details on what they found.

"I’m not free to say what it is at this point. Just know that it’s something that’s going to change the type of searching we’re doing," Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Morris during a Thursday press conference.

"[We] have found some interesting items and clues that we’re going to try to find out more information tomorrow with a different type of search."

PHOTO: Allyson Watterson, 20, went missing while hiking on December 22.
Allyson Watterson, 20, went missing while hiking on December 22.
Washington County Sheriff’s Office

He said the new information, which was discovered by search and rescue workers, would cause the search to "slow down quite a bit."

"As we get actionable information, we change the type of search and we slow down," he said.

The sheriff's office said a resident found Watterson's boyfriend asleep in his truck and brought him back to his home. Garland and his father went back to look for Watterson in the woods and notified her family when they couldn't find her.

About 100 volunteers trained search and rescue workers spent Christmas Day scouring the woods for signs of the missing 20-year-old. The Oregon National Guard provided a helicopter with heat-sensing cameras to help with the search on Thursday.

Watterson's parents thanked rescue workers and community members who spent the holiday helping with the search.

"We just really, really want to thank everyone, and we want this to keep going until we find Allyson," her father, Alan Watterson, said during the press conference.

They also urged people to check their properties for signs of their daughter as she could be looking for "a place to get warm."

"Please get the word out to anybody who may or may not be on social media … let the people know that don't have outlets to TVs or maybe people that kind of live off the grid," her mother, Misty Watterson, said. "She's just a very special person, and I will do anything to get her home. Anything."