SHERIDAN, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The mystery of a Dundee mom, missing for nearly two weeks, ended in tragedy on Tuesday.
The body of 38-year-old Jennifer Huston was located a short distance from the 1999 Lexus LX sport utility vehicle she was last seen driving July 24. There is no indication foul play was involved, Newberg Dundee Police said in a statement.
The SUV was spotted down Southeast Gopher Valley Road, just off Highway 18, near Sheridan, Ore., police confirmed.
Capt. Chris Bolek said the license plates of the Lexus located on the remote road matched those of Huston’s vehicle.
Just before 10:30 a.m., the vehicle was spotted by the property owner, who reported it to police. Once deputies confirmed the vehicle was in fact Huston’s, they discovered her body nearby during a sweep of the surrounding area.
A formal search for Huston ended Saturday, but friends and family vowed to continue looking. The mother of two, who friends say was planning a wedding anniversary when she disappeared, was last seen alive July 24, after she gassed up the SUV at a Circle K in Newberg.
Owner finds SUV on 30 acre property
When 74-year-old Vern Clemmer went out to chop wood on his 30-acre property, at 15171 SE Gopher Valley Road, he spotted the green Lexus and wrote down the license plate because it looked suspicious.
Charlotte Clemmer said when her husband returned, her heart fell when he told her it was a dark green SUV, and called police. Clemmer said he smelled what he thought was a dead deer.
“I was going to look for a dead deer on the way back and now I’m glad I didn’t,” said Clemmer. He said he didn’t get off his tractor to investigate because he got an “eerie feeling.” He said the Lexus was parked roughly 50 yards in from the road, obscured from view.
Furthermore, the Lexus was parked in an area that would have required the driver to unlatch a roped gate, pass a “No Trespassing” sign and then re-attach the rope.
LISTEN: Vern Clemmer speaks to KOIN 6 reporter Dan Tilkin
Charlotte Clemmer said her neighbors heard gunshots nearby one week ago.
Police: ‘We have a good idea of what happened’
Newberg-Dundee Police Capt. Jeff Kosmicki said the vehicle is being processed and will be moved as an Oregon State Police forensic investigation gets underway.
Yamhill County deputies were the first to arrive on the scene, and canvassed to see if anyone was in need of medical attention.
“The area where the vehicle was found was probably a good 1/8th of a mile from the residence,” said Kosmicki at a press conference held Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s not a road somebody would drive,” he said of the path, which was described as “more of a driveway.” In the massive, ten-day air, land and water search, rivers were checked, back roads were checked, and Kosmicki said it is likely search crews flew over the area Huston’s vehicle was parked.
He said results from the Yamhill County Medical Examiner could come back as early as tomorrow. “It doesn’t appear to be a crash that caused this,” Kosmicki said.
“We’re still open-minded, but I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what happened.”
Huston’s husband, Kallen Huston, said she was acting erratically the night she left to run errands. Police said records show she went to an ATM, then bought snacks and sleeping pills from a Rite Aid.
In a press conference last week, Kallen Huston said, “If you can come home, do. The boys need you, I need you.”
When she first went missing, Huston’s father, Bill Turner, said he was convinced something out of the ordinary had happened. “Her boys are her world, she would not leave them unattended,” he said. Tuesday, the family posted a statement to the Find Jennifer Huston Facebook Page:
“Thank you to everyone who has helped us search for Jennifer.” The page, which has more than 44,000 followers, was a central part of the Huston search.
Reports suggested Huston had been spotted on a ferry to the San Juan Islands last week, but San Juan police said the tip did not not turn up any credible leads. The day the formal air and ground search for Huston ended, more than 20 of her friends and family handed out flyers in what they pledged would be a continued search for the 38-year old mom.
A single flower sat on the ledge outside the Newberg-Dundee Police Department Tuesday night.
“It’s heartbreaking and especially for the boys,” said Hillside Fellowship Church Pastor Zach Elliott. “Just as a person and as a dad, I can empathize up to a point, but there are no real words to express the grief that has probably surrounded the family today.”
After days of volunteers searching for the mother of two, many now are grieving after the news of her death, sharing condolences on the Find Jennifer Huston Facebook Page.
“I know from the Huston family, what they have said over and over, is just that they have appreciated the support and the love and the encouragement that they have felt from not only the community but the folks that were involved in searching – all of those people,” said Elliott.
Elliott said anyone wishing to leave notes, cards or flowers for the Huston family may do so at the church. He said those items will be passed along to the family at an appropriate time.