FBI brought into search for missing woman

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Authorities have formed a task force that includes an FBI agent to search for a missing Sequim woman after a promising lead in the case was eliminated.

A North Olympic Peninsula woman was mistakenly identified by police as having tried to cash a check belonging to Lauryn R. Garrett, police spokesman Patrick Fudally said Monday.

Garrett, 23, went missing at about 7:30 p.m. May 1 after she was last seen at the Haines Place Park and Ride near the Safeway supermarket on Sims Way.

Police released surveillance-camera photos of a woman in her 20s wearing glasses, and police said she was trying to cash Garrett's $37 check at the store. One photo appeared in Sunday's Peninsula Daily News, and the others were posted on the newspaper's website.

Authorities subsequently received about a dozen tips, identified and spoke to the woman, Fudally said Monday.

“The check was actually her check,” he said. “We spoke to her, and in no way, shape or form is it related to the missing woman.

“It was another dead end. We are basically back to square one. We do not have any credible leads to head down any certain path.”

The woman in the surveillance video was not identified by name.

She could not cash her own check because she had outdated identification, Fudally said.

The Safeway manager had told police that the woman in the surveillance footage was trying to cash Garrett's check, Fudally said Saturday.

“What confused people was that she was trying to get bus fare to go to Sequim,” he said Monday.

The missing woman's father, Fred Garrett, had told police that when his daughter contacted him with a borrowed cell phone on May 1, she was in Port Townsend planning to catch a bus to Sequim.

It was the last contact he had with her. She was headed back to her home in Sequim after a stay in a rehabilitation clinic in Skagit County.

The father said his daughter had two checks in her possession when she vanished, Fudally said.

Neither one had been cashed as of Monday, police said.

First reports last week had erroneously stated that Garrett had tried to cash the check herself May 1.

An FBI agent based in Poulsbo and eight law enforcement personnel from Clallam and Jefferson counties' sheriffs departments and the Port Townsend Police Department brainstormed for almost two hours Monday afternoon, Fudally said.

They then returned to Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park, the park and ride and the Safeway store — the area where Garrett was last seen — to come up with ideas on a course of action, he said.

Options include a full-scale search of the park, further questioning her family and friends, and conducting more detailed interviews that go further back into her history, Fudally said.

“That's why we are bringing together this task force, to come up with the best plan for going forward.”

A witness whose phone Garrett borrowed the evening of May 1 to call her father told police he saw her walking toward the Safeway after she left two duffle bags in a tree-lined area near the park and ride.

Garrett was last seen that evening on Safeway surveillance video buying a bottle of vodka and a bottle of soda, Fudally said Saturday.

The missing woman's mother, Eleana Livingston-Christianson of Sequim, found one of the two duffle bags in bushes near the park and ride Wednesday, Fudally said, but the other bag has not been found.

Police found Garrett's personal items and a receipt for the Safeway purchase in the recovered bag, Fudally said.

“We knew she went back to the park and ride. We just don't have video evidence or witnesses,” he said.

Garrett is 5 feet, 7 inches tall; weighs between 120 and 130 pounds; and has brown hair and hazel eyes.

She has a tattoo of a bird behind her left ear and a tattoo of Washington state on her right wrist.

Anyone with information about Garrett's whereabouts should call Port Townsend police at 360-385-3831, ext. 1 or, if it's an emergency matter, 9-1-1.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 12. 2014 6:32PM
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