Maureen Kelly, of Vancouver, Wash., loves the outdoors and has her own way of doing things, but relatives and close friends are puzzled about why she would head out on an evening hike alone in the forest — wearing nothing but a fanny pack.
Chilling rain showers Tuesday heightened the concern for Kelly, who has been missing since Sunday evening in a steep and wooded part of Southwest Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Officials say the 19-year-old, who calls herself “Anu,” told acquaintances she was camping with that she was going on a “spiritual quest” at 5 p.m. Sunday but didn’t return at midnight as promised.
Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown announced late Tuesday that two days of scouring the area with dog teams and 4x4 vehicles hadn’t located Kelly or anything “related to this search-and-rescue mission.”
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman said deputies have suspended the search until the end of the week pending further investigation.
He said he could not elaborate.
Friends and family, meanwhile, were still grappling with the news.
Cheri Kaupu, Kelly’s half-sister, described her as “a very laid-back, carefree girl,” with a bit of a wild past that she was making progress to put behind her.
Kaupu said Kelly called her before going camping with friends and asked to borrow some gear.
“She was excited about going,” Kaupu said. “She told me she loved me. That’s normal for her. She’s an affectionate person.”
Clark County court records indicate Kelly was in district court last Friday after failing a drug test required as part of pleading guilty last year to being a minor in possession of alcohol.
At the hearing, a judge reordered Kelly to comply with all conditions, which included a fine of more than $500, according to court records.
Two days later, Kelly apparently went on her “quest.”
Amanda Ziegler, also of Vancouver, who’s been friends with Kelly for about a year, said Kelly has spoken of going on a spiritual journey before.
But Ziegler said she was surprised and concerned to hear Kelly apparently went into the woods naked and with little equipment or supplies other than a compass and a knife.
“It’s strange because she would know better than to go out unprepared like that,” Ziegler said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Kelly is active on social media; she described herself in her Facebook profile as employed as a “guru” at “Spreading the Love.” On June 6 she posted a picture with the caption “There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.”
On her YouTube page, Kelly posted videos of herself playing ukulele and beatboxing, a form of making percussion sounds with one’s voice and mouth.
Ziegler said she and her boyfriend have previously spent time in the area where Kelly was last seen. She said she was worried about her friend.
Kaupu said the family is also very concerned.
“I’m being strong for my mom,” Kaupu said. “She’s taking this really hard.”
Officials are asking anyone who was in the area of Canyon Creek Campground and the Forest Service 42 road over the weekend to contact the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office at 509-427-9490.