Willamina resident still missing

Sheriff’s department investigates but has little to go on

Ruben Rojas began the drive home Thursday, March 9, from Willamina to his home in central California, not having a clue to the whereabouts of his brother, David.

“This really sucks,” Ruben said Wednesday, by telephone from the Best Western Dallas Inn & Suites where he spent the night before hitting the road the following morning. “Don’t know where he is.”

Saturday will mark one month to the day that David was last heard from or seen. He was living in an apartment on Main Street/ Highway 18B in Willamina.

A neighbor said that on the day he went missing, David Rojas walked a short distance to the Best Stop Market, located on Main, about 10:30 p.m., to buy some beer and pizza. He was on foot, as he has no vehicle. The neighbor told Ruben he has no idea what happened to his brother after that sighting.

David was reported missing to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office. He’s been entered in both state and national law enforcement databases as a missing person, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Sam Elliott.

His disappearance has also been reported to the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department.

“That’s the last place (American Market in Grand Ronde) where he used his Oregon Trail Card, a little after 5 p.m.,” Ruben said.

Elliott confirmed that to be the case based on information received from Detective Sgt. Todd Whitlow, who has served as a liaison between David’s family and the sheriff’s office.

“I drove around the reservation and talked to people,” Ruben said. “The tribal police are looking for him.”

Ruben said he went to the Best Stop Market himself and spoke to the owner about his brother. He also learned that David was seen at Willamina’s Center Market, located slightly east of the Best Stop Market, prior to when his neighbor said he saw him head off for the beer and pizza.

“The clerk said she does remember seeing him, so that’s a good sign,” Ruben said. “She talked to him, and he explained he was excited about starting a new job.”

David had been working at a West Valley mill, but one day before he disappeared, he had given two weeks’ notice that he was quitting. Ruben said he was scheduled to start a new job Monday, Feb. 27, but never reported for work.

The sheriff’s office attempted a check of video surveillance at one store, only to find out the footage that a deputy was interested in viewing was no longer available. It had been deleted after seven days, according to Elliott.

“I thank everyone for their support,” Ruben said. “But I don’t feel like the sheriff’s office has been gung-ho (about locating David).” He does understand, however, the agency is in a difficult position. “They do not have a viable place to search for him. There is nothing but woodlands and mountains around here. They don’t know where he went. They can’t send a search crew out, when they don’t know where to look.”

Elliott said associates, co-workers, family members and friends of David’s have been interviewed. No information has surfaced that provides the sheriff’s office with a new location to search.

“Investigative leads will continue to be pursued when they surface. He (Ruben) has met with Sgt. Whitlow,” Elliott said.

In recent days, Ruben said he packed up David’s belongings and was going to return home with them, hoping the next time he returns it’s to be reunited with his brother.


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