FBI tempers optimism for girls well-being
- Jennifer Anderson
- Portland Tribune - News
Media 'got a little out of control,' spokeswoman says, in citing hopes for missing teens being alive
Authorities have 'no specific piece of evidence' to indicate that the two missing girls from Oregon City are alive, but the search continues as investigators and family and community members continue to hold out hope, an FBI spokeswoman said Monday.
Ashley Pond disappeared Jan. 9, her classmate Miranda Gaddis on March 8.
Both were seen by their mothers before they left to catch a school bus at a stop just outside their apartment complex, the 125-unit Newell Creek Village in Oregon City.
Five search dogs worked the dense woods around the apartment complex last weekend. FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele held a news conference afterward, announcing that investigators 'were very pleased with the dogs' work.'
She denied recent media reports that said authorities had discovered clues leading them to 'think the girls are alive.'
'Of course, we hold out hope that the girls are alive,' she said. 'At this point, we don't have any specific piece of evidence to point toward that, but as the family members are, we are keeping up every hope that we'll find them.
'I think that yesterday (Sunday) the media got a little out of control with the same comments that I'd been making all week, so I think they were taken a little out of context,' Steele said. 'We work with the belief that they are alive, and we want to bring them home.'
In past weeks, the girls' family members and a contingent of community members have distributed fliers to passing motorists, asking if they recalled anything out of the ordinary at the times of the disappearances.
The FBI and Oregon City police have interviewed and re-interviewed the residents of the apartment complex and searched each of their homes.
Investigators have linked the disappearances of the girls, who are both 13 years old, attend Gardiner Middle School and live with their mothers.
Thanks to widespread local and national media exposure, Steele said, investigators are following up on more than 700 leads and continually evaluating pools of suspects Ñ some of whom know the girls, some who don't.
Steele said it's not yet clear whether the girls' abductor is someone whom they know. The FBI is examining the girls' computers to look into whether the abductor may be someone they met online. She said the girls' family members have been ruled out as suspects, and it is not likely that they ran away.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-822-0962.