UPDATE • Family says remains found in the area were Yashanee Vaughn's body
A stone wall near the entrance to Rocky Butte has become a 'wall of justice' memorial with flowers, balloons and cards left for 14-year-old murder victim Yashanee Vaughn, after human remains were discovered Friday afternoon in the area.
Vaughn's family says the remains are Yashanee's body. Police have not made a formal announcement about the discovery.
Family members held a vigil Friday evening near the entrance of the area at Northeast 92nd Avenue and Russell Street. They thanked the public and law enforcement for the three-month search that led to the remains and for 'other heartfelt gestures.'
The body was found after a daylong search of the Rocky Butte area. It was the second time the area had been searched in the past three months.
Mayor Sam Adams, who was at the butte during the afternoon, called Yashanee Vaughn's death a tragedy.
Although 16-year-old Parrish Bennette Jr. has been charged with murdering Vaughn, Adams suggested other that people might be involved, saying the investigation would ensure everyone associated with the killing would be prosecuted.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk issued a statement Friday afternoon saying that Bennette provided the information that led to the search, but that no agreement had been reached on a deal in connection with it.
Early Friday afternoon, Vaughn's family was escorted by to a tent set up on the butte. They left without saying anything.
No longer a mystery
Police returned to Rocky Butte Friday morning to resume the search for Vaughn's body. At that time, Vaughn's grandmother Reynelda Hayes said the girl's family was hopeful that 'later today the whereabouts of Yashanee will no longer be a mystery and we will have the closure we have wanted the past 3½ months.'
Rocky Butte had been searched in the weeks after Vaughn went missing and Bennette was arrested a few weeks later.
The renewed search comes a week after a Multnomah County circuit judge denied Bennette bail in the case. The ruling followed a day-and-a-half hearing during which prosecutors presented much of their evidence against Bennette.
The evidence included Bennette's father telling police that his son admitted shooting Vaughn in his bedroom, a large amount of blood found in the bedroom that matches Vaughn's DNA and a shell casing matching a gun that Bennette supposedly asked friends to hide.
Even Bennette's attorneys admitted the evidence against their client was overwhelming, but argued that the shooting was an accident.
Prosecutors allege that Bennette hid Vaughn's body. Rocky Butte has been searched before without success.