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Car is found on Friday in deep water in the Willamette River near Rogers Landing

A vehicle found Friday at the bottom of the Willamette River near Newberg has been confirmed as belonging to a man who has been missing for nearly a year.

Human remains were found in the vehicle, but had not been identified as of Friday evening by the Yamhill County medical examiner.

Washington County Sheriff's officials verified that the vehicle is that of former elected official Ralph Brown.

Brown went missing on May 16, 2021. Family members said the 76-year-old, who suffered from memory loss, left home in his navy blue Nissan Sentra.Brown

The Nissan was found in approximately 40 feet of water at Rogers Landing on Friday by the Portland missing persons search firm Adventures with Purpose, which bills itself on its website as a search and rescue dive team.

Yamhill County sheriff's patrol deputies, detectives from the office's special investigations unit and its marine patrol responded to the boat ramp after "the company notified them that they believed they had located the vehicle."

Detectives from the Washington County Sheriff's Office's violent crimes unit is assisting with the investigation.

"Members of the Violent Crimes Unit are called upon to investigate serious violent crimes such as homicides, suspicious deaths, adult sexual assault, kidnappings, robberies, extortion, serious assaults, elder abuse and missing persons," the release said.

Brown was a former Cornelius mayor and a longtime Hillsboro School District teacher, counselor and administrator. He also served on the Forest Grove School Board and as president of the Oregon Road Runner's Club.

No one has seen or heard from Brown since he went missing in May 2021, when he drove away from his home in Cornelius for a destination unknown. Carol Brown, his wife, said Ralph told her he was "going home" before he left.

One of the Browns' adult children, Laurie Sanders, reached her father by phone that evening. But he sounded confused and was unable to describe where he was.

Despite a manhunt and attempts to track Brown's cellphone, his whereabouts remained a mystery. There were several unconfirmed sightings in Newberg, Silver Falls State Park and other locations across the region, but none were ever conclusively linked to Brown, and while Brown's family, friends, community volunteers and first responders followed up on every lead, they were unable to locate him.


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