Mother refuses to give up search for daughter Allyson Watterson who disappeared when she became separated from boyfriend in Oregon woods

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By Andrea Cavallier

A gap of 30 hours between the time an Oregon woman was last seen in the woods with her boyfriend and when she was reported missing “is concerning” to her both her family and to authorities.

Allyson Watterson, 20, was last seen shortly before noon on Sunday, December 22, 2019, by an unnamed homeowner in a wooded area of North Plains, Oregon, according to Deputy Mark Povolny with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Allyson Watterson (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

“Thirty hours. I just can’t believe it. She could be anywhere,” Allyson’s mother, Misty Watterson, told Dateline. “She’s out there somewhere and we just need to find her.”

Then homeowner in North Plains spoke to deputies and Allyson's mother, telling them that Allyson and Allyson’s boyfriend, Benjamin Hunter Garland, knocked on her door and asked to use the phone because their vehicle broke down. She said Ben was barefoot, wearing only socks, and had given his shoes to Allyson, who said she lost hers. After making the phone call, the homeowner said the couple left and was last seen walking down Old Pumpkin Ridge Road.

Another homeowner in the same area told deputies they found Ben sleeping in their truck early Monday morning. Ben told the homeowner his friends left him and he was trying to take cover from the rain. The homeowner drove him home. Ben’s father, Don Garland, later told authorities that when he got home from work, Ben told him he got separated from Allyson while they were in the woods.

Don Garland reported Allyson missing around 5 p.m. Monday, about 30 hours after she was last sighted. He told authorities he believed his son and Allyson had been hiking, but investigators could not confirm the reason the couple was in the woods. Don Garland could not be reached for comment by Dateline.

After receiving the report, deputies searched the wooded area of North Plains and located a truck that had been reported stolen. Ben was taken into custody on charges related to the stolen truck as well as fraud and theft charge in an unrelated case, deputies said.

Allyson’s mother, Misty, told Dateline she doesn’t know where the hiking story came from, and said she believed her daughter and Ben were visiting a friend who lived in the area that weekend. Friday, December 20, was the last day Misty saw her daughter.

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“She told me she was going to hang out with her friends. She was in good spirits. We told each other ‘love you’ and that we’d talk to each other later,” Misty said. “We are really close. Our whole family is.”

Allyson has been living at home in Hillsboro with her mother, father and brother. Misty said Allyson was in between jobs and planning on doing some traveling with friends over the next year.

“We constantly stay in contact with each other. She knows I worry all the time, so she always lets me know where she is,” Misty said. “Because of a situation like this. This situation is my worst nightmare.”

On Saturday, December 21, Allyson responded to her mother’s message and said she was with her boyfriend, Ben, at a friend's house in North Plains. Misty told Dateline Allyson had met Ben in high school, but recently reconnected and the two had been dating for only a few months.

Sunday morning arrived and Misty messaged Allyson again to see when she’d be coming home. There was no response. By Monday, Misty knew something was wrong. She messaged Allyson’s friends on social media, but no one seemed to know where she was.

After Allyson was reported missing that Monday, search and rescue personnel scoured the rough, wooded terrain with dogs, ATVs and helicopters looking for Allyson. But there was no sign of the 20-year-old.

According to the sheriff’s office, Allyson had a WiFi-only cell phone, which makes it impossible to ping. Misty told Dateline she had given her daughter the phone because hers was broken.

After five days of searches, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office called off the official search. Deputy Mark Povolny said that although the active search has been called off, the investigation into Allyson’s disappearance continues.

Misty told Dateline she will never stop searching for her daughter.

“We will find her. And I cannot wait to see her reaction when she finds out how much love and support went into finding her,” Misty said. “She would do the same for anyone else.”

Misty said Allyson was an advocate for people who were less fortunate and whenever she saw someone in need or being bullied, she would jump right in to help.

“That’s just the kind of person she is. Kind and loving,” Misty said. “And now this community -- this amazing community -- is coming together to help find this special girl. I’m so very lost without her. But I can’t just sit around and not do anything. We’re going to find her. We will.”

Family members and friends continue to form their own search parties to scour the area where Allyson was last seen.

A candlelight vigil to bring awareness to Allyson’s disappearance will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 10, 2020, at Jessie Mays Community Park in North Plains, Oregon. Details and updates on the case can be found on the MISSING: ALLYSON WATTERSON Facebook page.

Allyson Watterson (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

Allyson is described as a white female, 20 years old, with teal-colored (naturally brown) hair and blue eyes. She is approximately 5’7” and 120 lbs.

Allyson has a tattoo of an eye on her front left shoulder area and a tattoo of a fairy sitting on a spider web on her left forearm. She was last seen wearing an orange/yellow-colored hooded sweatshirt and black jeans.She was also carrying a red backpack.

If you have any information on the location of Allyson Watterson, please contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 503-846-2700 or email tips@bringallysonhome.org.