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Search for missing teen presses on.

Byline: Jim Feehan and Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

CORVALLIS - Hundreds of volunteers continued to comb through brambles and fields Sunday searching for Brooke Wilberger, the 19-year-old Elmira High School graduate who vanished from outside a Corvallis apartment complex one week ago today.

The day ended with no new clues or new suspects, though Corvallis police said they are still investigating four "persons of interest," including one who was arrested Saturday on an unrelated burglary charge.

Police said Sunday they plan to release a recorded voice message sent by Wilberger in the days prior to her disappearance. The content of the message doesn't relate to her disappearance, police said, but its release is expected to help keep her case in the public eye.

A prayer vigil for Wilberger will be held today at the Benton County Courthouse lawn. The vigil is organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has also coordinated volunteers for the search efforts.

A reward fund of $30,000, meantime, has been pledged for Wilberger's safe return. The fund includes $25,000 from Borden Chemical of Springfield, which employs Brooke's father, Greg Wilberger, and $5,000 from the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation.

Carole Sund, her daughter and an exchange student were all found dead after being reported missing five years ago from Yosemite National Park. Family members established the foundation to assist in missing person cases.

Wilberger, a student at Brigham Young University, vanished last Monday from an apartment complex near Reser Stadium where her sister lives, leaving behind a pair of flip-flops in a parking lot. Police have said they believe she was abducted.

Police on Saturday arrested one "person of interest" on unrelated burglary charges. Sung Koo Kim, 30, of Tigard was released late Saturday on $250,000 bail, according to officials at the Benton County Jail.

Corvallis police Lt. Ron Noble said Sunday that detectives still consider Kim a "person of interest" in the case.

"We're still investigating Mr. Kim and a few others. We're hesitating to call them suspects ... but we're definitely not ruling them out," Noble said. The other three persons of interest have not been identified.

Kim was arrested on a burglary charge at George Fox College by Newburg police May 13 on a search warrant that found more than 1,000 items, including large quantities of women's underwear.

He is also charged with an April burglary at Oregon State University's Sacket Hall, not far from where Wilberger was last seen. He was released on May 17.

Police on Sunday released a few more details on an attempted abduction that occurred May 22 about three-quarters of a mile from where Wilberger disappeared two days later. Corvallis police earlier had reported that the attempted abduction occurred May 20.

Two men apparently tried to force an OSU student into a car between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., but she managed to bite one of the men and run away, Noble said.

The victim told investigators that the suspects' vehicle was "a black, boxy compact car," Noble said. Police are continuing to investigate the attempted abduction, he said.

An investigation of registered sex offenders in Benton and Linn counties is also continuing, Noble said. Most of Benton County's 140 registered offenders have been interviewed, and investigators started contacting and interviewing Linn County's 550-plus registered offenders over the weekend, he said.

Searchers have focused on a five-county area, paying particular attention to routes from Corvallis to the Wilberger home in Veneta. About 200 people on Sunday searched in the Bald Hill area in Corvallis, as well as country roads northwest and southwest of town.

Today, members of the Benton County sheriff's posse plan to search the Peavy Arboretum north of Corvallis and the Finley National Wildlife Refuge south of Corvallis on horseback. Searchers also hope to complete the areas around Crystal Lake and Willamette Parks.

In all, more than 1,200 volunteers have covered an estimated 1,800 acres, representing about a 5-mile radius from where Wilberger was last seen.

Despite the lack of leads, Greg and Cammy Wilberger met with reporters again Sunday to voice their belief in a happy outcome and their gratitude for the outpouring of public support.

"We still believe she's alive and well," Greg Wilberger said.

Cammy Wilberger said she was especially moved Saturday night when the family returned to their Veneta home and glimpsed a readerboard at an Elmira church that read: "We're praying for Brooke."

"We're not big-name people," said Cammy Wilberger. "We are so amazed and grateful."

BROOKE WILBERGER

Prayer vigil: Today, 7 p.m., Benton County Courthouse lawn, sponsored by Mormon church. Individuals of all faiths encouraged to attend.

Reward: $30,000, and counting. Those who wish to contribute may do so by sending donations to Citizens Bank, care of Brooke Wilberger Reward Fund, P.O. Box 30, Corvallis, OR 97339-0030.

Tip line: Call (541) 766-6989 or toll-free at (877) 367-2270, or send e-mail to tips@findbrooke.com. Anyone who believes they've actually seen Brooke herself should first call local police.

Web site: www.findbrooke.com

Tallies: Nearly 1,000 tips received; close to 60,000 hits on Web site

Description: 5-foot-4, 105 to 110 pounds, shoulder-length blond hair, blue eyes, scar on right arm from wrist to elbow

CAPTION(S):

Benton County sheriff's posse members Ralph Garono and Jill Bartlett map out an area to look for Brooke Wilberger near Corvallis on Sunday.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Crime; Police plan to release a voice message Wilberger made prior to her disappearance
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 31, 2004
Words:906
Previous Article:LOOKING BACK.
Next Article:CALENDAR.


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