PORTLAND — Police searching for a 15-year-old runaway girl found two bodies Wednesday off a trail in Portland’s Forest Park, but said they could not release the identities of the dead until autopsies were complete.
The gruesome discovery came during the second week of an extensive search for Annieka Vaughan, an Aloha teen who authorities say ran away with Zachary Petersen on Oct. 30. Petersen, 23, was under investigation for sex abuse in a Washington case that named Vaughan as the alleged victim, said Portland police Sgt. Chris Burley.
Petersen, of Pasco, called a crisis hotline before vanishing on the same day Annieka ran away, authorities have said. He was believed to be armed and suicidal.
The unidentified bodies were found by a cadaver-sniffing search dog tucked behind a tree stump about 80 feet off a trail in Forest Park, said Detective Robert Rookhuyzen of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Petersen’s abandoned white pickup truck was found Monday in a nearby gravel lot and Annieka’s backpack was inside.
The location of the bodies is about a 10-minute walk from that parking lot, Rookuyzen said.
“We notified the family members of the discovery of these bodies just in case it’s them,” he said.
Autopsies will take several days because of a backlog at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.