LINCOLN, Ore. — The 5-year-old girl who vanished nearly four months ago from an Oregon development during the middle of the night has been found, authorities said Saturday.
The mother of Michael Joseph Vaughan issued a statement late Saturday confirming her daughter’s recovery, but did not identify her, other than to say she was “in good condition and safe.” Police made the announcement after hours of searches at a remote mountain site in northeastern Oregon on a mostly empty eastern Oregon lake lake shore.
Vaughan had been living in an RV in a gated community near the top of the 11,346-foot mountain, covering 15 to 20 acres of land, Idaho State Police said.
“At this time, I am blessed to confirm my daughter has been located and will be coming home safely,” Erika Yates, Vaughan’s mother, said in the statement.
Rescue teams for more than 20 federal, state and local agencies had been combing the 8-mile-long (12-kilometer-long) shoreline of Moose Lake for several hours after recieving the caller, but they had not found the girl.
After she disappeared, Idaho authorities called in help from Oregon, where nearby police also began a search for the boy, who remains missing. When she went missing, the boy, Joseph Geoffrey Alan Vaughan, told his mother that his twin brother, then 6, ran into the woods.
Police declined to offer any details about the investigation.
On a Facebook page set up for the search, Deborah Taylor Freeman, another mother of a missing boy, thanked supporters and asked for patience with the investigation. She also asked people to pray for the two kids and praised police for their work.
“I’m so exhausted and physically exhausted from the last three weeks,” Freeman wrote, adding she’d not slept for two nights. “However, I’m angry and sad. I think about the two children almost every waking minute. I’m hopeful and love you all for coming to our aid, and not giving up.”
In an article published on Friday in The Spokesman-Review newspaper, the community of Lincoln, Oregon, and surrounding regions held a “Turkey Shoot” for two guns, one given by a county judge and the other for a $30,000 donation. The story quoted a local sheriff as saying it was “a special day for us.”
After Michael disappeared, police searched the RV and the side yard, where his 7-year-old twin brothers told authorities they heard Michael running away.
They played “What HAPPENED?” with a plastic ball, and showed officers where they found some items, according to police. But some detectives came to believe there were “encouraging signs” the boy, who was autistic, might still be alive.
Last week, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed a new law strengthening laws against sex offenders in communities. He called children in rural areas “extremely vulnerable” because there are fewer law enforcement and emergency services available.
“I don’t know the details or the circumstances, but I know that Michael is out there. I want him back home,” said Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Chief Jeff Satur.