Published May 26, 2004
PORTLAND, Ore. – The search continued Wednesday for a missing 19-year-old college student who police said might have been kidnapped from a Corvallis apartment complex.
Meanwhile, the mother of Brooke Wilberger (search), a student at Brigham Young University (search) in Provo, Utah, hit the national airwaves, pleading for any information on her missing daughter on network morning news shows.
Capt. Robert Deutsch, a spokesman for the Corvallis police department, said searches would continue canvassing the apartment complex where Wilberger was last seen, expanding the search in ever-widening circles through nearby woods and ravines.
Wilberger's family told police that the missing woman is a devout, studious member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who doesn't smoke or drink. Her longtime boyfriend is currently in Venezuela on a Mormon mission, the family said.
"There's every indication to us that some kind of crime was committed," Deutsch said from Corvallis, about 80 miles south of Portland.
Deutsch said that Wilberger's purse, keys and other personal items had been left in her sister's Corvallis apartment. A piece of clothing belonging to Wilberger was found in the complex's parking lot, he said, a possible tip-off to police that she'd been abducted.
Wilberger's car was still in the lot, Deutsch said.
"This is a person who is completely responsible, who doesn't have any kind of record," Deutsch said. "It's so out of character."
Wilberger's sister and brother-in-law, Stephani and Zack Hansen, manage the Corvallis apartment complex where she was last seen. Her parents, Greg and Cammy Wilberger, live in Veneta, Ore., near Eugene.
Wilberger was cleaning the bulb covers of the tall lamps that line the complex's parking lot Monday morning when her sister left for a few minutes, Deutsch said.
Hansen told police that when she returned at about 10:30 a.m., her sister was gone. A bucket of water and cleaning implements were left behind, Deutsch said.
The family reported Wilberger's disappearance later that day, after searching for the missing woman.
"It's becoming a little more difficult the more we get into this, the sitting time, the waiting time," said Jared Cordon of Corvallis, Wilberger's brother-in-law.
"We are just focusing on finding her."
Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Brigham Young University, said Wilberger completed her freshman year as a pre-elementary education major, and has enrolled for next fall term. Wilberger has lived on campus in an all-female residence hall.
"Our concern is with Brooke, with her family, and those involved in this case," Jenkins said. "We hope that this matter can be resolved quickly and positively."
Cordon said Wilberger has been studying speech pathology, and hopes to work with children with speech impediments.
She graduated last year from Elmira High School near Eugene, where she played soccer and track. Wilberger has three sisters and two brothers.
Search crews, including more than 200 volunteers, have concentrated on a forested park about half-a-mile from the apartment complex.
Corvallis police plan to conduct interviews with people at the apartment complex and at a Hilton hotel overlooking the apartments.
FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele in Portland said agents from the bureau's Eugene office are assisting the investigation. Agents will provide whatever help local authorities request, she said, such as behavioral specialists and federal arrest warrants if a suspect is identified and leaves the state.
Other cases of missing female college students have captured the nation's attention in recent months.
University of Wisconsin student Audrey Seiler (search) disappeared from her apartment in Madison, Wis., March 27 and was found in a nearby marsh on March 31. Police later determined the abduction was a hoax.
Dru Sjodin (search), who attended the University of North Dakota, was found dead April 17 in a northwest Minnesota ravine, five months after she disappeared from a shopping mall parking lot in Grand Forks, N.D.
Wilberger is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 105 to 110 pounds. She has shoulder-length blonde hair and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing a gray Brigham Young University sweat shirt, jeans, small hoop earrings and a ring with the initials "CTR" engraved on it.
Deutsch said Wilberger has a scar on her right arm from her elbow to her wrist, which her mother on Wednesday told the Today Show is from a gymnastics accident.