Family Seeks Answers After Missing Oregon Woman Found Dead: ‘It’s Just Not Sinking In’

Allyson Joy Watterson’s boyfriend, Benjamin Hunter, claims they somehow got separated during a hike.

May 25, 2021
Allyson Watterson [via Washington County Sheriff's Office]

Allyson Watterson [via Washington County Sheriff's Office]

Allyson Watterson [via Washington County Sheriff's Office]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Authorities are still trying to piece together what could have happened to Allyson Joy Watterson, an Oregon woman who disappeared after her boyfriend said they got separated while looking for help.

On Dec. 22, 2019, a homeowner in the North Plains area was the last to see Watterson alive shortly before noon. According to the homeowner, Watterson, 20, and Benjamin Hunter asked if they could use the phone because they had run into car trouble.

After making a call, the pair left.

The homeowner later recalled Hunter was in stockinged feet because he had given Watterson his shoes since she had lost hers.

The following morning, Hunter allegedly told a second homeowner he got separated from friends, NBC News reported, and the person offered him a ride home.

Later that day, Hunter repeated the story to his father, Don Garland, and Garland phoned police to report Watterson missing at about 5 p.m.

“Thirty hours. I just can’t believe it. She could be anywhere,” Misty Watterson told Dateline about the lapse in time.

According to the mother, “kind and loving” Watterson had only been dating Hunter for several months and the two weren’t supposed to be on a hike as far as she knew.

“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,” the mother said, calling the situation her “worst nightmare.”

Deputies never found any evidence showing the pair were hiking or their car broke down, The Oregonian reported.

On June 20, 2020, almost six months after Watterson vanished, a person clearing brush in North Plains, Oregon, discovered the woman’s remains several hundred yards from the road.

At the time, local authorities noted how rough area terrain can be and why locating the body took so long.

“This was a challenging search from the very beginning. If you’re familiar with the area around North Plains you can go from open fields to extremely dense, forested brush areas that humans would even be able to walk or search if they tried,” Dep. Brian van Kleef said, according to Portland’s KATU.

Watterson’s aunt, Billy Macy, was troubled by where her niece was found.

“Knowing her the way I know her, I just I can’t imagine why she would have made her way into that space. It’s just not sinking in," she said.

In April 2020, between the time Watterson went missing and when her remains were located, Hunter, 22, took a deal and pleaded guilty to three charges against him unrelated to his girlfriend’s disappearance — unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, fraudulent use of a credit card and second-degree theft, the Washington County district attorney said.

According to law enforcement officials, Hunter admitted to stealing a Ford F-150 several days before Watterson vanished, using another person’s cell phone to order and pay for a ride share, and stealing $700 worth of merchandise from a grocery store.

Hunter was sentenced to three years in state prison and ordered to serve two years of supervision after his release.

He has not officially been named as a suspect or charged in connection with Watterson’s disappearance.

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