BROWNSMEAD, Ore. (KOIN) — Marty Benthin Evans was a bridesmaid in her best friend’s wedding at a Lutheran church in Knappa, Oregon on February 10, 1990.
The 33-year-old divorced mom of 2 was the second-oldest of 8 siblings. She was a little nervous about being in the wedding. Her sister made her bridesmaid’s dress.
Pictures from the wedding, taken shortly before she vanished, show her wearing that dress with baby’s breath in her hair. She disappeared that night and has never been seen since.
After the wedding
After the wedding and reception, Marty stopped at her mother’s house, where she and her 10-year-old son Andrew were staying after moving back from Ashland. Marty’s daughter was with her ex-husband, who also lived in the area.
While she was at her mother’s house, family members said she had tearful conversations on the phone with a man she wanted to date as well as her ex-husband.
“Crying and crying on the phone,” her mom, Gloria White, told KOIN 6 News.
Family members gave her a few bucks for gas and Marty, still wearing her bridesmaid dress, drove her brother’s pickup truck to The Logger in Knappa to meet up with friends. Some people said she seemed upset while she was there.
When Marty left the bar she drove to what was then a nearby market and gas station along Highway 30.
“She went up to the D&D to get gas, and she got the gas. She only had $4 because that’s all she would take from us,” her mom said.
But the truck wouldn’t start when she tried to leave the gas station. She called one of her brothers, who came there and got it going again. He watched as Marty headed out on Highway 30 toward Astoria.
“It was like she turned and he just seen her go, and that was it,” her sister, Linda Benthin-Weirup, said. “Nobody saw her again. He was the last one in our family to see her.”
The family doesn’t know what happened next that night. Marty never showed up at the restaurant in Astoria where she eventually planned to meet up with her sister. Family members said they knew something wasn’t right the next day when they didn’t even get a phone call.
“She would never have left Andrew. Never,” her mother said. “And if you could talk to him he’d say the same thing: ‘Mom would have never left me.'”
They called the police and started frantically searching for Marty and the pickup truck. They put up fliers and authorities scoured nearby waterways but never found any sign of Marty or the truck.
“I think it got buried with her. I think she’s probably with it,” Linda said. “The what-ifs. There’s so many what-ifs, a thousand what-ifs.”
‘She didn’t do this on her own’
Even now, 30 years later, her mother describes not knowing what happened as “torture.”
“Drive down the road in town, any town, and see a dark-haired girl and think it’s her, maybe,” Gloria said.
“You’re always looking, always and you never quit looking,” her sister said. “Your heart and mind tells you to keep right on going.”
Family members have long wondered if Marty crashed into the slough somewhere along the long and winding dike road that leads to her mother’s home. At the time, there was no evidence of an accident. Still, there is one corner they question.
“There’s big holes in this corner place where the trains used to come in and I guess they’re 30 to 40 feet deep down there” with deep silt in that spot, Linda said.
Of all the possible theories surrounding Marty’s disappearance, Linda believes she was likely the victim of a crime.
“Somebody intervened with her, took her somewhere, did something with her. She didn’t do this on her own,” Linda said. “Could you go very far if you have $3 in gas and a pop, and not even your purse with you?”
She hopes somebody comes forward with information.
“Somebody knows something, there’s no doubt in my mind. That one person could come forward with positive information that could lead to what happened to her or where she’s at,” she said. “We have to hang onto that hope, that’s all you’ve got. And I think everybody in my family feels the same way. You can’t quit hoping because that’s our sister.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Oregon State Police at 503.325.5515.