When Glenda Shoptaugh of Estacada disappeared eight months ago, Clackamas County Detective Dan Kraus said, after an unsuccessful search in the Mt. Hood National Forest where her car was found, the case was considered a criminal investigation.

Now, he's more to the point. 'Her disappearance is under suspicious circumstances, enough for us to think she was murdered,' he said. 'I believe a person or persons went to some lengths to make sure she wasn't found.'

If it weren't so tragic, this story might seem like a dark comedy.

Glenda, 61, was known around town as the woman who collected cans and bottles. She cashed them in at Thriftway where she bought food and cigarettes. This was her life. She lived in a trash-filled home just across the bridge on Southeast Highway 211 in Estacada with her 34-year-old son, Steven.

On Nov. 10, 2005, the last day she was reportedly seen, Steven and acquaintance Timothy Peden (not quite a friend, according to Peden), say they went mushrooming up in the Dee Flats on Squaw Mountain. 'He basically just wanted me to go with him so he wasn't afraid. He's terrible with directions,' Peden said. When Peden arrived at the Shoptaugh home at 7:30 a.m., Glenda was there. He said she was 'kind of barking like a coyote. She seemed a little out there.'

Steven said that when he came home four or five hours later, his mom wasn't there. After he made a trip into Portland to sell the mushrooms, she still wasn't home. He waited until four days later, Nov. 14, 'and I called her in missing,' he said.

On Nov. 15 a Forest Service employee discovered Glenda's 'black mold-covered' 1985 Subaru station wagon off U.S. Forest Service Road 45 on spur 340, up river from Estacada and approximately four miles from U.S. Highway 224. A search and rescue effort was discontinued Nov. 21.

Meanwhile, Peden said, he was unaware that Glenda was missing. He said he was searching for mushrooms in the area of the recovered car when he saw the search for Glenda taking place. Afraid that he was being framed, Peden took a pair of boots he believed connected to the case and hid one, then put the other boot in a guitar case. On Dec. 3 he left the guitar case at the Estacada Library and asked that they keep it while he looked around. He then went over to the Shoptaugh house where he pounded on the door and attempted to assault Steven with a rock, stick and knife.

Peden was arrested. While in a holding cell at the North Precinct in Clackamas, he piled up some toilet paper and lit it on fire, as a way to get warm, he said. He was convicted of three charges: Arson 1, Assault 1, and Burglary 1. He's serving his sentence at Snake River Correctional Facility; his earliest release date is Dec. 4, 2011.

The story doesn't end there. Other possible related incidences include rape, intimidation, and another person in jail. On Feb. 13, the Clackamas River behind the Cazadero Inn was searched as a training exercise involving approximately 25 people from various county agencies. It was conducted based on tips related to Glenda's disappearance. Nothing of significance was found.

Detective Kraus said the majority of people with connections to Glenda's disappearance are drug involved. 'Estacada pays a high price for meth and marijuana use,' he said.

Anyone with possible information in this case may contact Detective Kraus at 503-557-5811.

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