The parents of a missing Oregon woman are pleading for answers after investigators called off the active search and said they were unable to find evidence that she had been hiking with her boyfriend when she disappeared, as he claimed.
“I would do anything to get my daughter back,” Allyson Watterson’s mom Misty told local station KOIN. “That’s my little girl. I just want some answers.”
Watterson, 20, was reported missing Dec. 23, one day after she was last seen with her boyfriend Benjamin Garland by a resident in North Plains around noon on Dec. 22, The Oregonian reports.
Another resident in the area reported finding Garland sleeping in a vehicle alone the morning of Dec. 23, but Watterson wasn’t reported missing until later that day by Garland’s father, Don Garland.
Don Garland told authorities his son and Watterson had been hiking on Dec. 22 but they got separated and she disappeared, according to The Associated Press. He and his son spent the day of Dec. 23 looking for her before he reported her missing around 5:30 p.m., he said.
But investigators say they've been unable to find any evidence suggesting Watterson had been hiking at all the day she vanished and have called the missing 30-hour gap between when Watterson was last seen and when she was reported missing "concerning."
“We’ve never been able to verify this narrative,” Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian van Kleef said, according to The New York Post.
Search and rescue teams spent five full days searching for the 20-year-old in the wooded area where she supposedly disappeared embarking on the county’s “largest search and rescue operation in the past ten years,” according to a post on social media from the sheriff’s office.
But the active search was suspended on Saturday.
“If I believed she was in an area I could find her, this wouldn’t be getting suspended,” Search and Rescue commander Tony Morris said, according to the local paper. “We’ve just chased everything we had.”
Watterson’s family is now seeking answers about what may have happened to her. Misty Watterson told KATU she last saw her daughter, who was living with her, on Friday Dec. 20; she said she was going out of town to stay with friends.
She talked with her daughter again on Sunday Dec. 22 through a messenger app and Watterson reported she’d be home later that night, but she never arrived.
"I woke up from work Monday morning, and I immediately started messaging her friends: 'Hey, have you seen Allyson? She was supposed to come home last night, and she didn't,'” Misty Watterson told the station, calling her daughter her “best friend.”
In the days since Allyson Watterson was last seen, her parents have printed thousands of flyers and have posted them in multiple counties.
“She’s out there somewhere, and she’s literally been plucked out of our lives,” Misty Watterson told KATU.
Her devastated parents are now pleading for anyone with information about Allyson Watterson’s disappearance to contact authorities—even if it’s anonymously.
“Why would you not say something? How could you not? How could you not?” her father Allan told KOIN.
Benjamin Garland has been arrested on outstanding warrants unrelated to the disappearance. He pleaded not guilty to theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle, the AP reports.
Misty Watterson said she has talked with Benjamin Garland from jail but didn't provide details of their conversation.
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