Delay of 30 hours before Allyson Watterson reported missing

Missing Persons

Allyson Watterson last seen December 22 in North Plains

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (KOIN) — Teams of professional searchers from Multnomah, Clackamas and Columbia counties joined the Washington County Search and Rescue team in their continued search for Allyson Watterson in North Plains. Now in its fourth day, most of the search was focused on private property instead of public hiking areas.

The search is only using trained personnel after 3 days utilizing volunteers. The searchers are finding clues, but Deputy Tony Morris, the incident search commander, again declined to share what those clues were.

“I don’t want to expound on what we’re finding,” he said. Civilian volunteers should not go into the search area, he said, and reminded people not to pay attention to what is being said on social media.

Allyson’s mother speaks

In a Friday noon press conference, Allyson’s mom, Misty, thanked North Plains residents and asked them to continue to help searching for her daughter.

“I would like to ask the residents of North Plains to please look at your video gaming cameras or security camera starting from Sunday morning up until now,” said Misty. “Maybe you have footage or maybe you’ve seen my daughter out there.”

Misty Watterson, the mother of Allyson Watterson, at a press conference, December 27, 2019 (KOIN)

She 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.

“People are vilifying my daughter for really no reason,” Misty said. “She is a peace-lover and an incredible human being.”

“Whatever assumptions people are making are not true,” she said, but added that even if they were “she is still a human being.”

Morris said the search-and-rescue crews remain hopeful. “I know the family is hopeful.”

Misty said, “We’re not going to stop until we find her.”

Allyson Watterson, 20, was last seen December 22, 2019 on a hike in North Plains (KOIN, file)

Timeline of events

At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sheriff’s Detective Mark Povolny spoke to media about the latest in their search for Allyson. He said investigators are still trying to answer questions surrounding her disappearance. He outlined a timeline, “as far as we understand it at this point.”

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 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.”

When she was reported missing, deputies immediately went out to that area and started looking for her. That’s where Povolny said they found a truck, which they determined to be stolen, and a short while later, found Garland in the same area. He was arrested for unrelated theft and fraud charges, multiple unrelated warrants, and was also taken into custody “on some charges related to that stolen truck.”

While authorities are focusing their search efforts in the area where she was last seen, Povolny said, “with the time delay, it is possible that Allyson is no longer in this area.”

Watch the full 4:30 p.m. press conference here:

Questions remain

The media asked several questions that Povolny was unable to answer at this time due to their active search for Allyson, but he clarified that they are keeping their minds open and have not classified this as a criminal investigation.

Authorities have not said how they connected Garlard to the stolen truck found in the area where Garland was sleeping in a stranger’s truck.

There are also questions surrounding Allyson’s cellphone which Morris said was a WiFi-only phone, “not the type of cell phone we could do a ping to locate.”

Detectives said someone reported getting a knock on their door Sunday night after midnight into Monday morning. If any other homeowners experienced something similar—Povolny said even if they didn’t answer the door—to please report it to the sheriff’s office. He again stressed the importance of resident’s checking their cameras for sightings of Allyson or Garland.

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,” Morris said. “I wouldn’t expect them to be out here just hiking.”

Garland was in court Thursday on charges unrelated to Allyson’s disappearance. Garland pleaded not guilty in a Washington County court to charges of theft, fraudulent use of credit card, unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Search and rescue teams plan to continue their search Saturday.

This is a developing story that KOIN 6 News will continue to follow and update as new information becomes available.

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