Police search park, Larch Mtn. for missing Gresham woman

Police search park, Larch Mtn. for missing Gresham woman

GRESHAM, Ore. – Authorities searched a park in Clackamas County and also Larch Mountain Wednesday in connection with a Gresham woman's Tuesday disappearance.

Police searched a heavily wooded area of Dodge Park, north of Sandy, Wednesday afternoon for 21-year-old Whitney Heichel. They also searched Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge.

Investigators said Heichel's SUV was seen in the area.

Heichel did not show up to work Tuesday morning
at Starbucks. Gresham police called her disappearance "suspicious."

Her Ford Explorer was found abandoned at around 11 a.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of the Wood Village Walmart at 23500 N.E. Sandy Boulevard. The passenger side window was smashed and the tires were muddy.

Police believe the Explorer may have been in the east Multnomah County area, east of Gresham and possibly in Sandy between 6:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. that day.

On Wednesday, searchers scoured Dodge Park, moving from the river banks to the brush. By the side of the road investigators marked, examined and documented tire tracks in the mud.

They also marked areas with red tape where they found broken window glass.

It's unclear if police have found any clues in the park that are related to Heichel's disappearance.

Whitney's husband, Clint, said they live only a couple of minutes away from where his wife works at Starbucks. He last saw his wife Tuesday morning before she drove to work for her 7 a.m. shift.

"She got ready, her normal thing, got up and just kissed me goodbye and I kind of woke up and said 'bye, I'll see you when you get home,'" he said. "And then about 8:15 her boss called me."

Police said Whitney Heichel's ATM card was used Tuesday morning at a Shell gas station at 257th and SE Stark Street.

All Clint Heichel is left with are clues like surveillance video from that gas station where her ATM card was used.

"Not having her around is just overwhelming and it's hit met like a ton of bricks," he said Wednesday.

He has no idea why she never made it to work or what happened to her.

"She would have definitely done her best to get away or make it known that something was happening to her she didn't agree with," he said.

But he said everyone is doing the best they can to bring Whitney home.

"I love her, and that I really miss her," said Whitney's friend, Bridgett Ebeling. "I'd like to see her soon and give her a hug and won't let go for awhile."

"It's a very hard process and it's very emotionally taxing, but we will not give up till you are found," said Clint. "That's an absolute truth."

Police said they won't know whether they'll be back searching those areas again until Thursday morning. They also plan on doing two briefings a day, starting Thursday. One briefing will be held in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

They are asking anyone who may have seen the SUV during that time to call the Gresham Police Department tip line at 503-618-2719.