MOLALLA, Ore. -- A Molalla woman missing for nearly two weeks was spotted wandering along a rural road in the Scotts-Mills area, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. But Janice Ernest, 62, still has not been found safe.
"When contacted during the search, the couple positively identified Ms. Ernest from a photograph. The couple told deputies she was seen walking down Butte Creek Road near Scotts Mills on Friday, March 14," said Lt. Robert Wurpes. "The couple said Ms. Ernest appeared to be walking fine, and looked a bit dirty, as if she had been walking in the woods. She reportedly actively avoided direct contact with the couple that had seen her."
Now authorities are urging people who live in Scotts-Mills to check sheds and outbuildings on their properties for any possible sign of Ernest. They said she suffers from a mental illness and gets easily confused when she's not taking her medicine.
Ernest, 62, has wandered into the woods before and gotten lost, after she stopped taking her medication. On one occasion, she drove her car until it ran out of gas in Vancouver, Wash. Deputies said she got out on the side of a freeway and was found wrapped in a blanket.
Ernest hasn't been seen or used her bank accounts since March 12th. She was reported missing March 16th.
Last Sunday, her Buick Rendezvous was found parked on Butte Creek Road. Deputies said it looked like she walked away from her car and they don't know how warmly she was dressed.
Through rough terrain, searchers on ATVs, horses, on foot and using a helicopter and tracking dogs, were unable to find any sign of her.
"With the way the weather's been, cold up here at night, and during the day it's been kind of nice, we're hoping to find some kind of clues," said Deputy Sheriff Darryn Kuehl, who's heading up the search efforts. "There are some outbuildings in the area of some houses in which we're having neighbors check those."
In a strange coincidence, brothers Frank and Brian Nunn, who found Ernest's car Sunday as they rode ATVs near their father's home, are the same men who found and rescued a different Molalla woman calling for help when she got her hand stuck underneath the hood of her truck in February.
"Frank recognized the car because he'd seen it on TV," said their father Clarence Nunn from his home Tuesday. "He called up here to make sure, and my wife called it in."
Ernest's car was located a mile and a half down the road from the Nunns' home.