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Cops: New Information Alters Search for Missing Hiker

Oregon woman, 20, has not been seen since Sunday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2019 6:24 AM CST
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Police say Watterson is 5-foot-7 and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, black jeans, and brown Calvin Klein boots during the hike.   (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Police searching for a missing hiker in Oregon say they have found "interesting items and clues" that will change the nature of the search—but they wouldn't elaborate any further. The boyfriend of 20-year-old Allyson Joy Watterson told police that they became separated while hiking Sunday in the woods near North Plains, 18 miles northwest of Portland, ABC reports. The boyfriend, 21-year-old Benjamin Garland, was booked into the county jail on unrelated charges, including unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, after the disappearance, reports the Oregonian. The sheriff's office says Garland is cooperating with authorities and his girlfriend's disappearance is not currently being treated as a criminal investigation.

Search and rescue teams have been joined by volunteers, including around 70 who showed up on Christmas Day. An Oregon National Guard helicopter joined the search on Thursday. Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Morris told reporters Thursday that he is not free to say what the new items and clues are, but they "know that it's something that’s going to change the type of searching we're doing." He said the new information will cause the search to slow down significantly. "As we get actionable information, we change the type of search and we slow down," Morris said. The deputy, who told the public they should ignore conjecture on social media, said starting Friday the search will involve trained personnel only, KOIN 6 reports. (Read more Oregon stories.)

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