Police investigate discovery of two bodies in Forest Park
Portland police are investigating the discovery of two bodies found in a forest near Pittock Mansion, after a truck connected to the disappearance of an Aloha teen drew investigators to the area Monday.
The bodies were discovered at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Washington County sheriff's detectives have been seeking Annieka Vaughan, 15, who ran away from her home in Aloha on Oct. 30. Detectives believe Vaughan is likely with Zachary Petersen, 23, of Pasco, Wash., who is the suspect in a sexual abuse investigation by the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Vaughan is the alleged victim in that case.
Petersen's truck was discovered within 10 minutes of where the bodies were discovered. Though the truck was locked, Vaughan's backpack was visible inside.
"We always had a strong suspicion (Vaughan was with Petersen) and that backpack only confirms our suspicions," Washington County Sheriff spokesperson Jeff Talbot said.
Police on Wednesday declined to link officially the disappearances and the bodies. However, Washington County Sheriff's Office officials said the bodies were connected to the search for Vaughan.
An autopsy has been scheduled. Identities and causes of death will be released then, police said.
Petersen also went missing on Oct. 30, according to the Pasco Police Department. Prior to disappearing, Petersen called the crisis line in Washington. Investigators believed him to be suicidal and possibly in possession of a firearm.
Petersen's truck was spotted Monday, Nov. 6, in the 3500 block of Northwest Cornell Road in Portland. A backpack belonging to Vaughan was found in the truck.
The bodies were discovered at 3229 N.W. Pittock Drive.
Petersen's last known location was in the Portland area.
Washington County Sheriff's Detective Robert Rookhuyzen said law enforcement does not believe there is any threat to the public, and more information will be released as officers continue the investigation.
The families of Petersen and Vaughan were notified of the discovery of the bodies, Rookhuyzen said, but were not given details beyond their discovery.
Results of the autopsies will likely be unavailable for several days, Rookhuyzen said.
Multnomah County Search and Rescue and Mountain Wave Search and Rescue launched a search effort in Forest Park Tuesday afternoon after officers responded to reports of voices in the area of Hemlock Trail and Southwest Fairview Boulevard, near where the bodies were found, the previous evening, according to Portland police.
Police credited Mountain Wave K-9 Nexus, a tracker dog trained to find human remains, with the discovery of the two bodies.
Reporters Mandy Feder-Sawyer and John William Howard contributed to this article.