Searches fail to turn up missing California woman

She disappeared from Rainbow Family Gathering

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
photoMarie C. Hanson

Two separate searches held over the weekend produced no signs of a California woman missing since the Rainbow Family Gathering.

Marie Hanson, a 54-year-old grandmother of two, was last seen in the early morning hours of July 8 near her camp in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Hanson was attending the Rainbow Family Gathering peace festival in Skookum Meadows, and was scheduled to leave for home the day she disappeared, her family said.

Volunteers and law enforcement personnel took turns searching for Hanson from Friday through Sunday, but failed to find her. The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office plans to search for Hanson again on Sunday, chief criminal deputy Pat Bond said.

Weather is beginning to become a factor, he noted.

“We don’t want to get snow flying before we check some of these other areas,” Bond said, stressing that the sheriff’s office hoped to give Hanson’s family closure.

He stopped short of calling the hunt for Hanson a body search. “We’re searching for any evidence Marie has been or is out there,” Bond said. “We always hold out hope.”

Based on eyewitness accounts, Hanson’s family believes she had a stomach virus the day she disappeared that would have made her too weak to fight off predators — human or wild. Hanson’s family has repeatedly stated she loved them too much to run off with someone she met at the event.

This past Sunday’s law enforcement search provided Hanson’s family more hope they would find answers, said Nancy Enterline, whose son is married to Hanson’s daughter, Tawny. A police dog alerted its handler to a potential place of interest inside the forest, Enterline noted, but investigators were unable to find Hanson.

“There is definitely something there,” Enterline said, noting the location was about a half-mile from the place Hanson last camped along the roadside. “Prior to that, we didn’t have a feeling she was in a specific area.”

Now, the family believes there is a chance of finding Hanson before snow covers the forest. If sheriff’s investigators do not find her Sunday, the family plans to bring in its own search team, Enterline said.

Prior to the law enforcement search, around 15 volunteers participated in a search for Hanson on Friday and Saturday, according to Hanson’s family. Rainbow Family Gathering participants organized the search.

“I can’t tell you what heroes they are to us,” Enterline said.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office asks people to call Detective Tim Garrity at 509-427-9490 if they have any information on Hanson’s case. For more information on Hanson, visit Marie Hanson Missing; or search “mariehansonmissing” on Facebook.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com