PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Benjamin Garland, the boyfriend of missing 20-year-old Allyson Watterson, made his second court appearance in Washington County Friday facing additional charges — but still unrelated to her disappearance.
Prosecutors filed probation violation charges of unlawful use of a weapon, assault, coercion and a firearm probation from a 2017 case against Garland. Authorities said he is not a suspect in her disappearance.
Garland, 21, was in court December 26 on other charges also unrelated to Allyson’s disappearance. At that time he pleaded not guilty to theft, fraudulent use of credit card, unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Private search on Friday
Meanwhile, Allyson’s family organized a private search with volunteers in the North Plains area on Friday. The official search for her was suspended last week. Misty said they got permission from about 5 property owners to search the area on foot and with a drone.
Misty said the professional searchers “did an amazing job” looking for Allyson. “But I still don’t have my daughter, so as parents we have to know we are doing everything we can. I can’t just sit waiting for information.”
She said they’re trying to be respectful of everyone in the area who has given them permission to search their private property. “We are trying to search in an area that we narrowed down to a logical path,” Allyson’s dad said.
Misty added the official investigation is ongoing. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said they were able to find the person who gave Allyson’s mom the cell phone that she then gave to Allyson. They said they are still looking into it.
“We are not calling it criminal because it’s just not yet. Hopefully it’s not,” Misty said. “It’s an investigation to find out what happened or where my daughter is.”
Allyson Watterson’s mother, Misty, said she didn’t know where the initial reports came from that said Allyson was hiking with her boyfriend, Benjamin Garland, when the two were separated. Misty said she thought Allyson might have been visiting a friend in the area at the time, on December 22.
Law enforcement said Garland’s dad initially reported they were hiking, but it’s still not clear exactly what they were doing or how they got there.
Allyson was last seen on Sunday morning, Dec. 22, just before noon by a homeowner who lives up in the general search area. “At that time, she was with Mr. Garland,” said Washington County Detective Mark Povolny. “Early on Monday morning, a different homeowner found Mr. Garland asleep in that homeowner’s truck. And if you fast forward to that Monday night, around 5:30 p.m. is when Mr. Garland’s father called in to report Allyson as missing.”
“That means that there is a delay of about 30 hours from the time that we last know Allyson was seen by that homeowner on Sunday around noon, until Mr. Garland’s family reported her as missing on Monday evening,” said Povolny. “That delay is concerning to us and we’re trying to put together what happened in that intervening time.”
Authorities have not said how they connected Garland to the stolen truck found in the area where Garland was sleeping in a stranger’s truck. On Friday, WCSO released a photo of the stolen truck via Twitter. It’s a red 2001 Ford F-150. The sheriff’s office is asking for anyone who saw the truck between Sunday afternoon and Monday night in the time frame that Allyson disappeared to please contact them through their tip line.
Where or what Allyson was doing Sunday afternoon through Monday also remains unclear since authorities have not determined what Allyson and Garland were doing out in the Pumpkin Ridge area.
“If I knew exactly what they were doing it would help me in my job. But I don’t know,” Washington County Search and Rescue Incident Commander Tony Morris said. “I wouldn’t expect them to be out here just hiking.”
There will be a candlelight vigil next Friday in North Plains as a way to bring awareness to the ongoing search for Allyson.