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Ore. police widen search for missing student

Volunteers renewed the search on Saturday for a 19-year-old university student who was last seen at her sister’s apartment complex in Oregon and was feared kidnapped.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Amid new expressions of optimism by police, volunteers renewed the search Saturday for a 19-year-old college student who was last seen at her sister’s apartment complex and was feared kidnapped.

Brooke Wilberger, a student at Brigham Young University in Utah, vanished Monday, leaving behind a pair of sandals and her car parked in the parking lot. Her purse, keys and other belongings had been left in her sister’s apartment.

About 130 volunteers gathered Saturday morning to be briefed and sent to search an overgrown Christmas tree farm west of Corvallis, said Peggy Peirson, emergency services coordinator with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities also expanded the search, asking volunteers to drive the back roads of five surrounding counties during the weekend to look for abandoned vehicles, pieces of clothing or anything else suspicious, Peirson said.

Searchers were told to pay particular attention to routes from Corvallis to the home of Wilberger’s parents in Veneta, outside Eugene, Peirson said.

Police Lt. Ron Noble had said Friday that searchers were more optimistic but he would not elaborate other than to say that if she were dead she likely would have been found by now.

“We feel a little better today than we did Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” he said at a news conference Friday.

He said police were questioning four “persons of interest,” some of whom are sex offenders.

“Something’s going to break here pretty soon,” predicted her father, Greg Wilberger. His employer offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the missing woman.