April 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Family seeks information about Mekenna Reiley

15 min read
Mekenna Reiley (April 5, 2023), Eric Brazil (March 14, 2022), Shane Sprenger (Nov. 2, 2021), and Chase Robertson (April 29, 2020) are among those reported missing in the McKenzie River watershed.

Buck Wild: We are members of Bikers Against Bullies, Lane County, Oregon. Stand Up And Be Heard is a show for not just us to talk about what’s happening in our communities, but for all of you to have a chance to be heard. Veronica, can you tell us a little bit about our topic today?

[00:00:16] Veronica Seals: This is a plea for help. Her sister has gone missing from Blue River, but what many of you don’t know or have not been made aware of is how many families just like this in Lane County there are right now. But let’s dial up our guest. (All righty.) And this is Taira Warren that we’re calling up. She’s a sister of one of the missing people.

[00:00:39] Taira Warren: Hello.

[00:00:40] Veronica Seals: Hi, Taira. This is Veronica Seals, as you know, and Buck Wild, and we want to thank you for coming and talking about the situation. Let’s get right into it. So your sister moves to Blue River, and what happens? Could you tell us?

[00:00:53] Taira Warren: Mekenna had been living down in the Medford area for, like, I don’t know, close to 17 years or something like that. And she moved to Blue River about a year ago. She had been staying in Eugene for a little while and then moved out there because that is where her boyfriend is from. She had been working at a school there as a preschool teacher. And life’s just kind of trucking along as it does.

[00:01:21] And then on Wednesday, April 5 (2023) was the last day that anyone has seen or heard from her.

[00:01:31] We don’t know a ton. And that’s been the really, really hard part for the people that love Mekenna and then also for the police because they don’t really know where to start.

[00:01:42] So what we do know about that day is the video cameras that are down by Indigo Cafe, the little food cart there, Mekenna’s car triggered their security cameras at 6:19 in the morning. And then she is seen on another private person’s surveillance camera around their house. She then walked around their property a little bit and then later probably around, I want to say 7:00 or so in the morning, construction crew came because they were working on the rebuild there from the damage from the fire. And they found Mekenna and they text the picture of her that’s in that missing poster.

If people have seen that, my understanding is that the construction crew text that picture to the homeowners and was like, ‘Hey, do you know this woman?’ The homeowners were like, ‘No, we have no idea who she is. We’ve never seen her.’ And then they call the sheriff to come out and check on her.

[00:02:43] Veronica Seals: And what condition was she in when they found her?

[00:02:46] Taira Warren: She was, she was indeed naked. And something I have thought is: Did she go down there naked? There’s no evidence on any of the video footage of her actually removing her clothing down there at the construction site. So my question is, did she jump in her car naked because she’s, you know, upset and just trying to get out of whatever situation she’s in?

[00:03:12] Like, maybe she was in bed. Maybe she, lots of people sleep without clothing on. Maybe she took off in her car to get away from someone.

[00:03:20] My understanding is that she was disoriented. That’s again something that we’re working really hard to clarify because we’re trying to circle back with that crew of construction workers because, hindsight is a crazy thing. When people were interacting with her in that moment, they didn’t know that she was going to disappear in a few hours.

[00:03:43] A lot of the people on the construction crew are Hispanic. And so I don’t know how much they really talked to her because I think that they’re all Spanish speakers. And so I don’t think there was a lot of conversation that happened between them, is my understanding.

[00:03:59] But my impression was that she did seem to be out of sorts and whether that was because she was upset, had she, you know, been traumatized or did someone give her something? Did she willingly take something? Those are all the questions we have that we haven’t been able to get an answer to.

[00:04:19] Veronica Seals: And the police officers show up.

[00:04:21] Taira Warren: Yes. So it’s, you know, it’s a non-emergency call. So my understanding was that they were alerted somewhere between 7 and 8 a.m. And I don’t think they actually got there until closer (to) 11 a.m., is my understanding of that.

[00:04:39] And then the Lane County Sheriff (officer) did talk to her at the scene, I mean, he didn’t even check her ID. She gave a fake name, and he never asked her for any form of identification.

[00:04:53] I guess she had clothes in her car that once the sheriff got there, she went over to her car with him and put her clothing on. So she did have clothes on when she drove away from the construction site. But again, we’re still trying to circle back to both the Lane County Sheriff and the construction workers and find out what exactly she had on when she drove away because we haven’t been able to clarify that.

[00:05:20] He did ask her if she needed medical attention. She did decline medical attention and he felt that she was with it enough to drive her vehicle because her car was there the whole time and it is on video from the Indigo Cafe, you can see Mekenna’s car drive away and she heads over the little bridge and through the town part of Blue River, there’s a lot of damage there from the fire. And then she heads upriver, we can suspect, towards her home.

[00:05:54] Buck Wild: Well, what have her friends had to say about this?

[00:05:56] Taira Warren: Not much. People have been cooperative, but people just seem to know nothing. Yeah, the neighbors that lived in a trailer near her, to their recollection, they heard Mekenna’s car come back late Tuesday night, didn’t hear anything Tuesday night going into Wednesday and then even Wednesday during the day. So it’s 12:02 p.m. when Mekenna’s car drives away from that construction site. And they, the neighbors, were in Eugene running errands during that time.

[00:06:31] Buck Wild: Really? Wow. Yeah.

[00:06:33] Taira Warren: Well, and the question is, I think people jump to this conclusion that she’s disoriented because she’s intoxicated somehow. Maybe she’s disoriented because she had a traumatizing event.

[00:06:44] Veronica Seals: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That can make you disoriented. Trauma could definitely. (Absolutely.) Yeah. But just, I’m just surprised they didn’t, you know, naked would make you think, hold like a 48-hour cycle.

[00:07:00] Taira Warren: Something besides letting her get in the car and drive away because it’s, at that point, when someone’s behind the wheel of a vehicle, it’s not just what she could do to herself, but it’s what she could do to other people driving down the road, I mean, what if she hurts someone else because, again, let’s just say that she’s traumatized. Are you in your right mind to be driving, you know? (Yeah.)

[00:07:25] Veronica Seals: You said that when you came here right after she went missing. What did you do exactly?

[00:07:31] Taira Warren: So I got there on Saturday. That would have been April 8, and I went to the area of the construction site in the area right at Indigo Cafe, and I actually was met there by a Lane County Sheriff (officer), and he was very kind. He is the one that showed me the surveillance footage of Mekenna’s car driving down there at 6:19 in the morning and then pulling away at 12:02. So he let me look at that.

[00:08:03] And that was the beginning of me making like a timeline of what happened. And then I went and went under the bridge and walked over toward where the construction site is, just trying to see, like, where did she go? What did she do? And, at that time I found clothing underneath the bridge in the river that appeared to be a woman’s, and I very much suspected it was Mekenna’s.

[00:08:31] And I, before I took the clothes out, I let the officer know, ‘Those are female’s clothes. Those look like Mekenna’s clothes to me. Do you want to get them out? I don’t want to disturb evidence or mess something up.’

[00:08:45] But yes, we’re heading into like 72 hours at that time. (Okay.) It’s very cold still. And so if she is, if she did wander away and she’s outside, she’s in danger with the elements.

[00:08:55] Veronica Seals: How many searches have been done?

[00:08:57] Taira Warren: Multiple searches have been done and Search and Rescue, like, through the sheriff’s department, has gone out, they’ve gone out with dogs because her car, her cell phone, her dog (who was her best friend, who went everywhere with her), everything was found back at her house, just below Saddle Dam.

[00:09:17] And when I first arrived up there on Saturday, her trailer wasn’t, her house, her car, it was all just wide open. Nothing was being treated like a crime scene yet. I think they finally sealed off her trailer and impounded her car, I think it was the following week.

[00:09:39] Buck Wild: She must have been fleeing from something then.

[00:09:40] Taira Warren: Fleeing from something, or did someone abduct her?

[00:09:43] Veronica Seals: Wow. Yeah, there’s that chance that she is out there and needing help and we need to get to her and we need to figure out how to help your family get this moving to get her home, one way or the other, however it ends up, you need some answers, most definitely.

[00:10:03] And somebody out there knows something. And we urge anybody that knows something to come forward and do the right thing and take a stand in this. Because it could be our brother, sister, cousin, loved one. You have a Facebook page.

[00:10:16] Taira Warren: Yeah, the public Facebook page is Mekenna Riley Investigation. Missing from Blue River, Oregon. And then she also has a post on the Facebook page, Missing in America Network. People can post on there if they find anything. The tip line number that we have set up is the area code is (786) 526-9240.

[00:10:44] I posted something with the Oregon Crimestoppers information because people can do that even, like, online, and report something. It can be anonymous. We’re not out on a witch hunt. We’re not after people for their lifestyle choices, you know, kind of, to each his own. We just want to find Mekenna. I just want to take her home to her parents in whatever capacity that is.

[00:11:09] Veronica Seals: And remember, it can be something small, it doesn’t matter.

[00:11:13] And then we also noticed, we drove up there, Buck and I drove up there, and we wanted to walk the walk, and try to see, before we talk, yeah, before we talk to you, because we wanted to have some understanding of what you’re talking about here. And we noticed there’s a lot of the posters missing. Somebody’s ripping down your posters. We could find only one. We found one poster up there and that seems odd to us. Who would do such a thing to rip down posters? (I don’t know.) You know that’s, yeah, but we’re going to put more out.

[00:11:46] Taira Warren: We stapled them, we’ve stapled them all, all over the place. We, yeah, all over the place from like boat ramps down by the river to mailboxes. We put them on the post, anywhere that you can think, all the stores, the gas station, I put them inside the stores. I put them by the gas pump anywhere you can think, so…

[00:12:07] Veronica Seals: Buck and I are going to grab a bunch of bikers after this show and we’re going to start hanging up those missing posters again,. everywhere. (Absolutely.) And we’re going to bring about 100 bikers with us so we don’t have to worry about anything. So we feel pretty good about it. Hanging up them posters for you. (That would be amazing. Yeah, it does. It does.)

Taira Warren: It’s disheartening to think that anyone would take it down. I guess maybe I would feel better pretending like they got blown away by the wind. I don’t know.

Veronica Seals: Let’s hope that they got blown away and there’s not those kind of people, but we know that maybe there is something being hidden up there.

[00:12:43] Taira Warren: I, it’s just a, it’s a terrible situation for everyone. And, when I think about what everyone who loves Mekenna is going through, and the fact that that has multiplied so many times over, it just, it makes me so sad because Shane (Spenger)’s family is going through this, there’s Chase Robertson. There’s Eric (Brazil). His family is going through this. So it’s just this has been repeated over and over.

[00:13:12] And when you look at a map and you see like where Chase’s car was found and where Mekenna’s car was found, where Shane’s car was found, it’s all in such a small area. How do all of these people just go missing with their cars and cell phones and all their belongings left behind and no one knows anything?

[00:13:34] It’s so consuming. It’s, and you just feel like if you’re not doing everything….Sorry.

Veronica Seals: No, it’s okay. You, you are doing everything you can.

Taira Warren: If you’re not doing everything you can for her, that you’re somehow letting her down.

[00:13:54] Veronica Seals: You’re not letting her down. No, you’re doing a good thing. You’re doing a good job, honey. It’s okay. You’re doing a really good job because there’s no rule book here. You know, there’s no procedure on how to feel in something like this. You’re doing really good under the circumstances. You know, this is horrible. (I know, I can’t imagine.)

[00:14:12] Taira Warren: I, we’ve reached out to the Oregon State Police because that was another question of mine with all of these missing people in such a small radius, if the Lane County Sheriff doesn’t have the resources, fine. I can’t do anything to change that overnight, but if that’s what we’re lacking in Lane County, well, then why doesn’t the Oregon State Police get involved? (Exactly.) And when I’ve called them, they said that they can’t get involved unless Lane County Sheriff asks.

[00:14:40] Buck Wild: Wow. Well, I say we call upon the community.

[00:14:44] Veronica Seals: I say we call on the community to urge them to ask for help. (I’d volunteer to search. Exactly!) We’ll search. We’ll, I know we can bring you huge numbers of people that would help search.

[00:14:57] Taira Warren: Yeah, and we have been planning another search and we know someone who has a specific search and rescue drone. And we’re going to try to get that up in the air over a few different places just because so much of the terrain is so steep in that area. So there’s places you can’t, you know, hike down into, so, I think using the combination of people and then a search and rescue drone would be the best thing, but there’s many cases of missing people where they end up being found in areas that were searched more than once, which is what happens.

[00:15:37] So I think that her property, well, not her property, but the property where she was living, searching that again. And then all the way up to Saddle Dam and the area surrounding it. And then the road that goes up and around the reservoir. I think up towards like the Forest Service area up there. Yeah. So I think that whole area should be searched again.

[00:16:03] Veronica Seals: And people, if you’re out there in Blue River, if you’re out there in Blue River, keep your eyes open, and do call in. The tip line is (786) 526-9240. And you don’t have to say your name. You can call from, anonymous number, whatever. (The smallest thing could help too.) The most any insignificant little bit could open up this case and bring her home.

[00:16:28] Taira Warren: Yeah, anything. Anything. And if you see something, you know, when you’re out hiking, whether it’s a shoe, an old T-shirt, you know, take a picture. (A piece of cloth, a piece of cloth, anything.) Yeah, anything. ‘Cause right now, we just, we know so little that anything could help us. Sometimes I think that people think it has to be something monumental. It doesn’t. (No, it doesn’t.) Because we just need little pieces to be put together.

[00:16:55] Veronica Seals: It could be a cigarette butt. It could be anything, you know? And so keep your eyes and ears open, people. And please, again, that tip number: (786) 526-9240.

[00:17:08] And we’ll give you as much airtime on our show as we can because you know, we believe that this is a community problem and Bikers Against Bullies are for the community and helping the community and urging other people to stand up and be heard and to help your fellow people in the community and become, you know, more helpful to each other, kinder to each other and lend a hand.

[00:17:32] Taira Warren: And I, my personality is, I don’t want anyone else to go through this. So these issues and problems that we’ve acknowledged in this situation with Mekenna, I don’t want them to happen to other people. So I don’t just want to fix it for us. I want to fix it for everyone. Because if something doesn’t change, this will continue to happen. And that’s disgusting to me and I can’t even stomach that.

[00:17:59] Veronica Seals: Let’s get it to change. Let’s definitely get it to change. And if there’s anything Buck and I can do or Bikers against Bullies or anything that you need, we are at your disposal. You need searchers, you need whatever, we will help you. You talked about maybe getting a billboard or something. We’ll help you whatever facilitate all that. And we’re just in it to help you figure this out.

[00:18:25] Taira Warren: We just appreciate even just with the missing posters, to get those back up again. And when you guys go out on rides, just putting them up, talking to people, just keep, get people to talk about it and (Someone knows something) acknowledge that this is a big deal, and we’re not going to let it go. We’re not going to give up (Never), and we will find out what happened to Mekenna. And we will bring her home.

[00:18:54] Veronica Seals: Amen. Definitely.

[00:18:58] Buck Wild: Hopefully somebody out there will do the right thing.

[00:19:00] Veronica Seals: Please, please do the right thing and come forward. This family can’t move on until they have answers and they need that. They need it desperately. And one more time, the tip line is (786) 526-9240.

Mekenna Reiley (April 5, 2023), Eric Brazil (March 14, 2022), Shane Sprenger (Nov. 2, 2021), and Chase Robertson (April 29, 2020) are among those reported missing in the McKenzie River watershed. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office announced June 26, 2023 that partial human remains have been identified as belonging to Shane Sprenger from Blue River. Anyone with any information is requested to please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150.

Stand Up And Be Heard airs on Saturdays at noon on KEPW 97.3 FM. The KEPW News team provides full-text summaries of breaking news presented by community radio producers at 97.3 FM, Eugene’s PeaceWorks Radio.

UPDATE: Posted on FlashAlert: August 13th, 2023 12:14 PM

Investigators with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office recovered the body of a deceased person from the water of Blue River Reservoir yesterday. The identity of the involved and cause of death are under investigation. Additional information is not available at this time.

UPDATE: Posted on FlashAlert: August 15th, 2023 2:31 PM

The body found in Blue River Reservoir on Saturday has been identified as that of 40-year-old Mekenna Christine Reiley of Blue River.  A post-mortem examination conducted by the Oregon State Medical Examiner has revealed that Reiley died as a result of drowning.  There are no indications of foul play.  The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate any leads related to her disappearance. 

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