Where Is Alissa McCrann?

Written by Mel, Host of Naptime Nancy Drew Podcast

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Photo of Alissa McCrann provided by close friend & teammate of Alissa. This lycra jacket is potentially what Alissa was wearing the day that she disappeared.

December 19th, 2015. It’s officially been five whole years since the disappearance of 37 year old, single mother, Alissa Marie McCrann. After communicating with some of Alissa’s friends, it is apparent why so many who knew her have searched for her, and who grieve in her absence still. Alissa, was the type of friend that was always trying to make sure everyone felt included, and that everyone had a smile on their face. She was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of Team Fusion PDX, which is a Dragon Boat racing team in Portland, Oregon. The photo gallery below, is courtesy of some close friends and fellow team member of Alissa’s.

Coincidentally, as legend has it, the origin of dragon boat racing, is believed to have manifested from the disappearance of Qu Yuan. The Chinese state of Chu, is where Qu Yuan resided during the Warring State period between the seven main states of China at the time. Qu Yuan was a local politician, as well as a poet, who influenced some political decisions under the rule of King Huaiwang. That is, until those who were rich and powerful influences within their community, did not like the persuasion that Qu Yuan had over King Huaiwang. So. They basically gaslighted Qu Yuan so that those political influences were reversed and Qu Yuan was then banished from the state of Chu. In the year 278 BC, thirty five years after Qu Yuan’s on and off again exile and influential relationship with King Huaiwang, Qu Yuan was devastated to hear that Chu state had been invaded and taken over by Qin state. He was so devastated over losing the people of Chu, that he allegedly drowned himself in the Miluo river on the fifth of May, 278 BC.

Illustration of Qu Yuan from Wikipedia

Locals paddled out to try and recover Qu Yuan’s body. To keep fish and wildlife away from his body, the recovery crew, dropped Zongzi, which are rice dumplings, into the Miluo River. But Qu Yuan’s body was never found. Thereafter Qu Yuan perished in the river, the Dragon Boat Racing Festivals are held and Zongzi are eaten Qu Yuan’s memory. This tradition become re-popularized in western culture in the 1970’s. People come from all around to spend the day along the Portland Waterfront and watch the dragon boat races. It’s a very cool event to witness and is a part of the kickoff to the Portland Rose Festival. Coincidentally, I found a photo I had taken of my dog, Carl, on the deck of my husband’s former condo, with the dragon boat racers rowing in the Willamette River in the spring of 2013.

The origin of Dragon Boat Racing is tragic, yet endearing, in light of all those who searched for Qu Yuan and how much the people of Chu state cared for him. What a special tribute the dragon boat festivals have become. Especially after learning how Alissa McCrann’s dragon boat teammates from Team Fusion PDX, had worked SO hard to put the word out of Alissa’s disappearance as soon as possible, and scoured any place Alissa may have been seen last. Knowing her personality and pastimes, they split up and searched various trailheads to search for her vehicle.

This is the missing person poster that was plastered everywhere Alissa’s loved ones could think of, and online, in hopes of any tips sent in that would help bring Alissa home.

Team Fusion PDX along with many other friends and family of Alissa’s got word out via social media, in person at countless locations around Portland and Multnomah Falls, they were boots on the ground searching and did whatever they could to help search for Alissa. If given the chance, I’ve no doubt that many, if not all of Alissa’s teammates would volunteer in any way they could once again. I would too, for the record. Just tell me when. I’m there. Though there isn’t a whole lot of media coverage regarding Alissa’s disappearance, it is quite moving to see just how many people love her and still hold out hope that she will be brought home. Regardless of circumstance.

Photo of Alissa McCrann provided by close friend and teammate of Alissa’s.

On Monday, December 21st, 2015, I sat down to feed my eight month old son and scroll through Facebook on my phone. As so many modern parents do. That’s when I first read about Alissa Marie McCrann’s disappearance. The information was initially, pretty vague. Media described Alissa’s physical description as: 37 years old, Korean female, 5’3″ tall, 145 pounds, with black shoulder length hair, brown eyes, with a raven tattoo on the back of her left shoulder and a large Korean flag design on her lower back. Alissa went for a run the morning of Saturday, December 19th, on her regular run route near her family’s SE Portland home. By the afternoon, Alissa stopped answering her phone. Loved ones became increasingly concerned when Alissa didn’t show up for a weekly run with a friend the following Sunday morning. Authorities were called Monday, December 21st, after Alissa was an uncharacteristic no call no show to her job at Sunshine Dairy, in Portland. Reporters were alerting the public that Alissa’s 2011 SUV, a black Mazda CX7 with a large white Portland Timbers Axe decal sticker on the back window, was also missing.

Photo of Alissa & the glasses that she frequently wore, provided by a close friend of Alissa.

By Tuesday early evening of the 22nd, local news sources were reporting that Alissa McCrann’s car had been found parked in the back section of the large parking lot of Multnomah Falls. Her Mazda was parked in the lane closest to Interstate 84 Westbound, in Cascade Locks, Oregon. This landmark is treasured by Pacific North Westerners, and Oregonians, such as myself. But it’s about a 30 minute drive from Alissa’s family home in SE Portland.

Aerial view of Multnomah Falls parking lot via Google Earth. Red arrow indicates approximate area where Alissa McCrann’s black Mazda CX7 was discovered late afternoon 12/22/15.

Multnomah Falls is one of the top landmarks that tourists enjoy exploring within the Pacific Northwest. People travel from all over the globe to witness the evergreen beauty of our “Wonderland“. And For good reason. Whether surrounded by the lush blooms of spring, the vibrancy of autumn, or covered in ice and giant cascading icicles. Six hundred and twenty eight feet of breathtakingly powerful water pressure. Not to mention, all of the surrounding beautiful trails, many other waterfalls, and viewpoints. Crowne Point is another nearby location that I recommend. Particularly, on a clear day. Just brace yourself, and bundle up for the strong winds. And be sure to check out their gift shops, while you’re at it. Beautiful, eclectic, cool items for sale. Plus, you’re supporting local artists and the maintenance of this beautiful piece of earth.

This is a photo I took from inside Multnomah Falls Lodge, circa fall 2011, while enjoying lunch with friends.

But here’s the problem with Alissa McCrann’s black Mazda SUV being parked at Multnomah Falls. No one knew she was going to be there. You may be thinking that doesn’t sound odd to not tell anyone where she was going. Sure. That 37 year old adults can do whatever the Hell they want. Obviously. But after speaking to some friends of Alissa’s. Not letting anyone know she was hiking and/or not dressing for the colder weather, were just a couple of details surrounding her disappearance, that seemed out of character for Alissa. I’m in no way judging. I’ve made far more reckless decisions on those very same trails.

When I was 21, my friend and I went on a hike from Multnomah Falls, up to Larch Mountain. If you’re not familiar with this hike, well. Neither were we. Because it is a seven mile hike at a nearly 4000 foot incline. Amateur hour, much. YEAH. It’s an expert level hike. Neither of us were conditioned enough for that damn trail. I’ll be honest. I complained the entire way up. And by the time we got up there, the thought of descending back down the rocky and steep terrain on wobbly, sore muscles, sounded impossible. So the more we thought about our options, the better, in that weak moment of exhaustion, the offer of a ride back to our car in the Multnomah Falls parking lot from a couple of men who had been hanging out sharing a six pack up at Larch Mountain’s Sherrard Point. I know. Cringe. Not a bright decision. Side note – I still can’t believe we hiked that whole way up, just to discover that there’s a parking lot for Larch Mountain RIGHT freaking THERE. Ugh. Anyway. My friend and I made it out of that situation safely, thankfully.

A few months ago, I brought this story up to this same friend, and asked if she remembered much about the ride. She told me that I pretended to call my dad and leave a voicemail. To which, the two older white men in their 40’s may have gotten spooked out of any ideas they had and dropped us off. A couple of hours later, my pickup truck was then broken into at nearby McMenamin’s Edgefield’s parking lot. Coincidence? Perhaps. Accepting that ride was one of the dumbest decisions I’ve ever made. But for someone who can be so cautious, I must humbly admit that those snap impulse decisions in a moment of desperation, can happen to anyone.

Oregon had gotten A LOT of rain the week prior to Alissa’s December 19th, 2015 disappearance. Like a lot. Flooded roads, parking lots, trails. The temperature was getting colder by the day as snow appeared on the forecast and blanketed the Cascade Locks trails the week of Christmas 2015. But that particular Saturday, December 19th, 2015, was a relatively clear slash partly cloudy, beautiful day. But “beautiful” weather to Pacific Northwest is often different than those in milder climates are used to. The high for that Saturday the 19th was 49 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy. The only time that it had rained that day, would’ve been briefly later that afternoon.

However. Due to the excessive rainfall that Oregon’s Columbia Gorge had endured the previous week, some of the trails appeared to have been eroding in some areas and would have been unsafe conditions for trail running, let alone hiking without proper equipment. I played outside with my kids earlier today and didn’t dress weather appropriate for this high of 48 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny day. I wore a crewneck sweatshirt, leggings, and rain boots. This would’ve been weather appropriate for a quick outing. But this is not something I would wear to hike in during the winter. Another of Alissa’s friends told me they had to stand outside and fix a flat tire the other day in similar attire and weather. We both tend to find it hard to believe that Alissa would’ve gone to the falls without bundling up.

Screenshot of Pacific Northwest Search & Rescue’s twitter account, sharing a photo from their search for Alissa.

Potential Alissa McCrann sightings happened sometime early Saturday afternoon, December 19th. Search and rescue crews from Multnomah County SAR, Mountain Wave Search & Rescue, Evergreen Search Dogs in Washington, Pacific NW Search & Rescue, as well as boots on the ground volunteers and Alissa’s loved ones, scoured 150 miles worth of trails between December 22nd-24th, and January 23-24th, 2016. But tracking dogs and air scent dogs, found no trace of Alissa McCrann. Other than her parked vehicle.

From what I have researched online and after having listened to Stuff You Should Know’s podcast episodes about Search and Rescue and the different types of SAR dogs, is that tracking dogs are nose to the ground trackers and require a fairly fresh human scent within 2-3 days of someone missing. Whereas air scent dogs, are nose in the air tracking dogs that can detect shed human skin cells stronger than a nose to the ground scent. More specifically, dogs can track a human scent to one specific individual. They can smell through snow, water, etc. There are two Stuff You Should Know episodes regarding search and rescue crews and the types of tracking dogs. Highly recommend.

Human skin cell particles invade the nostrils of the search dogs, especially the doggies with the wrinkly folds like bloodhounds, as Stuff You Should Know Podcast mentions, and they can follow that concentrated scent in any direction. Most, if not all of the waterfalls and cliff areas in Cascade Locks are accessible at their base. Even the area where Alissa was allegedly last seen by hikers. Yet still. Not one single trace of Alissa’s scent. Nor her belongings. Nothing. Aside from her car being parked in the NE section of the Multnomah falls parking lot.

Multnomah Falls often has high tourist traffic, as mentioned. Thus far, all I’ve been able to recover photo wise of Multnomah Falls from that specific December 2015 weekend, are photos that were posted on Sunday, December 20th, by various hikers who used hashtags on Instagram. There are over 600k photos under the hashtag Multnomah Falls alone. So when I found a photo of Alissa’s black SUV in the parking lot on 12/20/15, I was shocked.

Photo of Multnomah Falls Lodge from the trails, facing the parking lot on Sunday, December 20th, 2015. Thank you to Instagram poster Ilonakayan for granting permission to use their photo!

The weather and foot traffic on the trails MAY have played a part in search dogs’ inability to pick up Alissa’s scent. IF Alissa was the not woman the alleged witness or witnesses saw, there’s a chance that she never even set foot on those trails. Heat seeking planes flew over the trails and various waterfalls, in search of Alissa and any body heat she may have still been giving off. To no avail.

Not one single shred of clothing or personal item of Alissa’s was found to even indicate hypothermia. Which. For those who are not aware of hypothermic behavioral patterns; it is common for someone with hypothermia to feel like they’re overheating and thus, begin to lose layers of clothing. No trace of Alissa was found. Well. No physical evidence recovered has ever been publicly announced, anyhow. Sadly. On Christmas Eve, search and rescue were forced to call off the search for Alissa, until the fresh, dense, new fallen snow cleared and fairer searching weather continued again on January 23rd, 2016, but the search concluded with no results once again, on the 24th. I did see social media comments from one SAR team, that finding no trace of Alissa indeed odd to them as well.

Usually search and rescue have something to go off of that’s been found physically, but only Alissa’s vehicle was found. Alissa’s Mazda CX7 was processed and did not indicate signs of foul play from the tests and inspections that were conducted. That said, I would very much be interested in hearing what tests were done, given that there were no visible signs of foul play. Forensic testing costs money. Money that has to first be approved to spend. If there’s no sign of foul play, and Alissa enjoyed being outside, detectives may not have felt that much testing needed to be done, and instead, focused their hard work and search efforts on the trails where witnesses claim to have last seen Alissa. Every single person who searched for Alissa McCrann did everything that they possibly could, and they are incredible for putting in so much hard work and dedication into finding Alissa.

Less than a year later, on Sunday, October 16th, 2016; another Portland woman went missing. The timing of Annie Schmidt’s disappearance happened the week prior to the memorial that Alissa’s loved ones held for her on October 22, 2016. Twenty one year old Annie Schmidt, had just moved from Utah to Oregon in July 2016, and was eager to take in the beautiful scenery. After her roommate was unable to hangout, Annie decided to go on a hike up near Munra Point. Oddly enough, Annie was another missing person who was familiar with the outdoors and typically packed for the trail conditions. But she didn’t that day. In fact, her phone was phone inside her car. Annie’s cell phone was one of the items that whomever had broken into Annie’s vehicle had left behind.

Search and rescue scoured the trails and the base of any peaks where Anne could’ve fallen, but weren’t able to find her. According to an article from Strange Outdoors, a Keizer woman named Lydia McGranahan was one of the volunteer searchers in the search efforts to find Annie Schmidt. The night before Annie was found, Lydia had a dream that she was falling, then saw Annie’s face. Lydia then used her gut instincts to search the base of Tooth Rock at Munra Point. The area had already been searched prior by Search and Rescue teams. Yet, Annie was just a little further around the corner. Munra Point is a VERY cool hike. But it is incredibly slick and can be very dangerous. On November 11th, Lydia’s instincts, along with Liz Hall and her SAR dog, Reu, recovered Annie Schmidt’s remains. She had been hidden beneath the falling autumn leaves. Her death was ruled an accident, and is assumed to have slipped and fallen.

Photo from Annie Schmidt’s Facebook page

It took less than one month to find Annie Schmidt, with well over 100 search and rescue members and volunteers. So how has there been zero trace of Alissa McCrann after miles upon miles of trails have been searched within the last five years? Some loved ones of Alissa McCrann have expressed that they do not feel her presence on the trails or near Multnomah Falls. Should they listen to their gut instincts like Lydia McGranahan did when her dreams and instincts helped find Annie Schmidt? Should we be raising an eyebrow at this point and attempting to search elsewhere in addition to keeping our eyes peeled along all of the connecting trails that surround Multnomah Falls? Just in case? I’m up for the challenge.

As if losing their daughter wasn’t hard enough, the McCrann’s lost their eldest child. On Monday July 24th, 2017, tragedy would strike the McCrann family once again. Alissa’s brother, 42 year old Matthew McCrann and 68 year old Richard Cisler, were killed in a residential gas explosion in North Portland. Just awful. My heart goes out to the McCrann family and all who knew these two men. Rest In Peace, Matt and Richard.

Photo courtesy of Alissa’s close friend and teammate.

Tragedy would strike once more, when a 15 year old teenage boy who wanted to impress his friends, decided to light some fireworks when campfires were prohibited. During peak wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest. This careless stunt created what is known as the Eagle Creek wildfire in the Columbia Gorge September 2nd, of 2017.

Franklin Ridge Trail #427. One of the last areas Alissa was potentially seen, was completely torched. Some areas of the trails were so badly damaged, that the roots of the trees had burned, causing sinkholes and massive treefalls. Some areas smoldered well into 2018. If you’d like to see the difference the wildfire made upon Cascade Locks’ and Oregon’s lush evergreen landscapes, I recommend checking out Historic Aerials’ website. Make sure you spell that correctly now. Or else you’re in for a whole different landscape, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Anyway. On Historic Aerials website, you can search for Multnomah Falls for example. Click Aerials, and then click on 2015 or 16 versus 2017. We can only hope that if Alissa is up above the falls, somewhere off the beaten paths. That her remains are still identifiable. If she somehow fell or hid from the winter weather conditions somewhere the fires were not able to damage, then the black lycra Team Fusion PDX jacket she may have been wearing, should still be out there somewhere, as many athletic fabrics are built for duration. So. I hope she’s NOT in the woods, considering how search and rescue have already covered over 150 miles of terrain in search of Alissa. Search and Rescue continue to look for Alissa McCrann and September 2016 missing Oregon man Tom McAdams, every single time that they set foot on those trails.

Alissa Marie McCrann was born June 3rd, 1978 in Busan, South Korea. She was adopted in 1983, by her parents, Kevin and Maryann McCrann. As mentioned, Alissa also had a brother, Matthew McCrann, who was adopted in 1980 from South Korea, as well. Alissa grew up in the suburbs of southeast Portland. She graduated from David Douglas High School, attended Marylhurst University, which is a really cool college of the arts in Oregon, taught Sunday School, and worked for SE Portland’s Sunshine Dairy.

In addition to being a member of Team Fusion PDX Dragon Boat racing, Alissa had joined a rec dodgeball team via Portland’s Underdog Sports. Her team was known as “The Restraints”. Alissa was also a runner, and a member of Timber’s Army, which is a massive fanbase for our Portland Timbers professional soccer team. She rooted for the Timbers, The Thorns, which is our women’s soccer team, The Portland Trailblazers and The Seattle Seahawks. Always down to watch the game with friends.

Photo courtesy of a close friend and teammate of Alissa McCrann.

An active Cherry Hill PTA member and volunteer at her son’s school, Alissa also enjoyed spending time with her then thirteen year old son, Ethan. Be it something active or outdoors, or going out to eat. Alissa was a legit foodie. Level expert. Appreciates a good meal and loved to share those meals on social media, in hopes of helping to further support restaurants and businesses that she liked. Goals. That’s what I aspire to do. Stay active just so I can eat good food haha. Hell yeah, girl. Alissa and her son had been living with Alissa’s parents at the time of her disappearance. She and her son’s father had split years prior, but were still able to manage co-parenting together.

The night before Alissa McCrann went missing, she attended dinner and a movie, hosted by one of her close friends. This was the last time any of Alissa’s loved ones would see her. From what it sounds like, it was a lovely evening with friends. The next morning, Saturday December 19th, 2015. Alissa got up, and according to friends who knew her running slash day to day attire, put on athletic leggings, likely her black lycra jacket with Team Fusion PDX on one of the shoulders of sleeves, and headed out on her normal run route, beginning at 7:21am. I know this, because she mapped and shared her run routes on social media via an app called Endomondo.

This run route, for those familiar with the SE Portland area and those wanting to get a visual on Google earth, was a nearly 2 1/2 mile loop that Alissa would often run twice to equal roughly five miles. She occasionally even ran four laps on this loop, totaling approximately 10 miles. But only every so often. Five miles was the most common distance. I’m exhausted just thinking about that. Especially being in my mid thirties and thinking about attempting to run before 7:30AM on a Saturday morning, after a late night with friends. That’s dedication.

Screenshot of the morning run that Alissa McCrann took the day she went missing. Courtesy of a close friend and teammate.

I was able to obtain screenshots of Alissa’s runs, thanks to friends of Alissa’s from her social media page. The day that she went missing, she ran less than one full loop of her normal routine. The app stopped tracking her movements roughly 110 meters south of her home, which is slightly longer than a football field, when she rounded the corner from SE Division Street to SE 112th avenue. Every other run was completed back to her home. So. First odd detail. But not enough to really panic. She could’ve been feeling sluggish from being out late the night before and turned the app off before she got back to her house. There’s also a restaurant called Tik Tok Restaurant & Bar, is located on the NE side of that intersection, so she could’ve decided to grab some breakfast, for example.

Alissa’s last known social media post was an Adele video that she tagged a friend in, around 10am, and she had been messaging with one of her closest friends about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which had just barely hit theaters.

YouTube video from Dustin Ahkoui’s channel. This hilarious Adele parody about food cravings is the last social media post that Alissa made around 10AM, Saturday, December 19th, 2015.

But the ONE detail that really gets to me. Is the fact that Alissa’s cell phone last pinged off of a cell tower in Tigard. And then. Nothing. Ever again. For those unfamiliar with Oregon, Tigard is about a 25 minute drive from Alissa’s SE Portland home. And it wasn’t an area that she frequented. To her loved ones’ knowledge, she did not know anyone who lived in that particular area. Tigard is also about a 45 minute drive to Multnomah Falls, where Alissa’s car was parked.

The distance between Alissa’s last cell ping and where her car was later found had always bothered me, until a friend shared with me that a receipt was found on the passengers seat of Alissa’s car when the SUV was discovered at Multnomah Falls. The receipt was to have a repair done on her vehicle. Not being an area Alissa would’ve normally sought out for vehicle maintenance, is believed that she went out to Tigard POSSIBLY because her 2011 black Mazda SUV, was likely still under warranty. That would makes sense. I always just assumed that she was doing some Christmas shopping, considering Bridgeport Mall and Washington Square Mall are relatively close to the cell phone tower that Alissa’s phone last pinged off of. So, was this a scheduled maintenance appointment? A walk in? And where?

Even still. Alissa’s cell last pinging off a tower that was a 45 minute drive from where her car was left always bothered me. Why? Because that would leave us to assume that perhaps her battery on her phone ran out. And, Because. She’s a MOM. If I’m away from my kids and my phone isn’t working, I’m going to find a way to charge it so that whomever is watching my children can get ahold of me for any little thing. But friends do not recall her car cell phone charger being recovered in her vehicle. Doesn’t mean that it wasn’t, but. Strange, if true.

Photo of Alissa McCrann and a close up of her cell phone and fold over cell phone case for her Samsung Galaxy Notebook that last pinged in Tigard, OR. The cell phone cover opens like a book, & the sticker on the front of her phone case is a unicorn. Not sure if the sticker was on her phone at the time of her disappearance, but keep your eyes peeled. Thanks to a friend and teammate of Alissa’s for the photo!

It wasn’t until I reached out to some of Alissa’s friends, that I began to feel like Alissa and I had a lot in common when it came to our phone habits. One friend told me how Alissa was an avid social media poster, and ALWAYS had her phone on her. In fact, friends used to joke that she had her phone attached to her like it was on the other end of an umbilical cord haha. That’s a good one. And I feel like had my friends thought of that joke, the burn would’ve been said to me as well. Alissa did indeed want to be available to communicate, in case her son needed to get ahold of her. This same friend recalled a time when they text Alissa in the wee hours of the morning. Alissa responded, even though she had been asleep. Because she kept the volume up on her phone loud enough, so that it would wake her.

This photo was taken during a group selfie and kind of paints a picture of Alissa McCrann’s cell phone habits. Courtesy of a close friend and teammate of Alissa’s.

So. Let’s go back over the timeline leading up to Alissa’s disappearance. She wakes up. Begins her run at 7:21AM, according to her social media post of her mapped out run on the app Endomondo. The run totaled 2.46 miles in 35 minutes 15 seconds. So let’s see here, 7:21 plus 35:15….that means her run or brisk walk that Saturday morning ended a few minutes before 8AM.

Alissa’a last public social media post was around 10AM,. She last spoke with a close friend via texting or messenger, before 11:30, about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which had just barely hit theaters.

The specific location where Alissa had maintenance on her vehicle has also never been made public. But. It’s speculated that Alissa’s black Mazda suv was still under warranty, so perhaps she took it to the car dealership that she purchased the vehicle from. Basing this PURELY off of the information that I have seen provided online by Alissa’s friends on Reddit, her cell phone was tracked near SW Cascade Avenue and Fanno Creek in Tigard. Now. Alissa’s phone was a Sprint phone. Sprint is now owned by T-Mobile. And there JUST so happens to be a T-Mobilel ocation, which was formally a Sprint store, right across the highway from Cascade Avenue and Fanno Creek. Thank you, Google Earth.

Close up of Alissa McCrann’s tattoos, thanks to a fellow teammate and close friend of Alissa’s.

That means that if we’re talking about a cell phone ping, regarding Alissa’s phone, then there’s about a five mile or so radius to work with, regarding the area where Alissa, or Alissa’s phone, was last in Tigard. But. Pings are really hard to work with and no longer hold up in court due to inaccuracies. According to a technician answering ping questions on Quora, some companies set pings to go off every eight hours. Which, would make sense. Alissa’s phone likely last pinged at 10am in Tigard. So it’s unlikely that her phone would have pinged closer to Multnomah Falls, unless it was on until at least 6PM. Or. Unless her phone potentially was never at Multnomah Falls. Pings, are unfortunately still not the greatest at tracking us down. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes not.

But you know what does track a location pretty damn accurately? GPS. Global Positioning System. Satellites have their own information highway of space junk that we rely on every single day. Orbiting around us, to better pinpoint our locations. Pretty much every single app you have on your smart phone, right now, will ask you if they can use your location, at the very least. Or. They’ll just do so, unless you change your settings. So just because Alissa’s cell phone stopped pinging in Tigard. Doesn’t mean her phone stopped tracking altogether. Alissa had some friends that conducted some very impressive social media and ground searches themselves in the Tigard area, in an attempt to track down Alissa and her cell phone, but neither have been discovered, thus far.

Alissa’s friends used Facebook and the “Friends Nearby” feature to hunt for her phone. Which tracks a person within half to one mile of the persons location. The Facebook app’s GPS, tracked Alissa’s cellphone to within half mile of Cabela’s sporting good store and C & I Bar & Grill in Tualatin. Which is less than 5 miles south of SW Cascade Ave and Fanno Creek, where the cell phone ping indicated. Makes sense. In between Cabela’s and C & I Bar & Grill, is a secluded park slash trailhead called Tualatin River Greenway Trail, that was under construction until 2016. Could this be an area worth searching for her phone? Google earth showed some interesting photos from that trail that were posted in December of 2015. So many secluded places along Tualatin River Greenway, Fanno Creek Trail, Ash Creek Trail, and so on within that five mile radius.

Follow @PNWSAR on Twitter to keep up with their search efforts.

Not to mention the construction crew that may have been working that day (some work on Saturdays) could have had some workers in the area who may have witnessed Alissa’s last whereabouts near her phone. Hopefully every park between Tualatin Greenway Trail and Fanno Creek and SW Cascade Avenue in Tigard was, or is searched. It may not have been, given most of the information we knew about cell phone pings and how unreliable they are. Facebook’s Friends Nearby feature had just come out in 2014. So not a whole lot was known about GPS tracking via social media and smart phone apps five years ago. I mean. I probably still wouldn’t have paid much attention to detail if it wasn’t for scouring the internet for traces of Alissa and hearing about her friends’ search efforts.

According to the Facebook Friends Nearby feature, Facebook was still pinging Alissa’s cell phone location in the same area that her friends had mentioned near Cabela’s in Tualatin, up until around noon on Wednesday, December 23rd. This is the day after Alissa’s car was found 40 minutes away in the Multnomah Falls parking lot. And, then. Nothing. Four days after she went missing. That app. Can indeed track someone via GPS when a phone is turned OFF, according to an CNBC article by Jennifer Schlesinger and Andrea Day. Given that Alissa tracked her runs, was a pro foodie poster, that Alissa’s friends noted that she was attached to her phone, not to mention, needing to keep in touch with her son…..then. Yeah. I think it’s at least possible that Alissa’s cell phone never left the Tualatin or Tigard area.

Alissa would’ve also stopped to grab something to eat somewhere before heading up for a trail run. Be it snacks or a sit down meal. What I don’t get, is why wouldn’t the Facebook Friends Nearby GPS indicate Alissa’s location at or near Multnomah Falls, even when turned off? But if her phone was somewhere on the westside of the Portland suburbs. Then it is possible that Alissa would’ve figured out that she didn’t have her phone with her by the time she got clear out to Multnomah Falls. People attached their phones can rarely go that long without peeking at their screens, or using their phones to access their playlists. Still. Cannot be ruled out that Alissa chose to brave the trails sans phone anyhow.

Photo of Alissa McCrann courtesy of a close friend and teammate.

All of Alissa’s calls were going straight to voicemail as of the afternoon of Saturday the 19th. Her car was definitely at Multnomah Falls BY Sunday, December 20th, 2015. Everything seems to indicate thus far, that Alissa’s car made it to Multnomah Falls Saturday, though, given the witnesses who believe that they saw Alissa on the trails early afternoon. But it’s hard to know which tips were legitimate as there are varying accounts from seemingly multiple potential witnesses, but only an anonymous couple is who is ever mentioned in the media. Not saying that I don’t necessarily believe the witness, or witnesses. I just want to report as accurately as I possibly can, in order to help any other potential witnesses come forward that may have been Christmas shopping at Washington Square Mall and/or Bridgeport Mall that Saturday. Or buying a new car, saw her at a restaurant or food cart, etc., in the Tigard slash Tualatin area.

I’m a big believer in the hard work and capabilities of the Search and Rescue crews. Both dogs and humans. And they have all worked SO hard to find Alissa. When the McCrann family held a memorial for Alissa on October 22nd, 2016, they encouraged donations to search and rescue crews and have praised all search and rescue and investigative efforts, as quoted in the media. Over 150 square miles of trails. And yet. NOTHING. That we know of publicly, that is. Alissa’s phone’s GPS was still tracking her cell phone’s location near the Tigard Tualatin border some 40 miles (66 kilometers) away, until mid Wednesday, December 22nd. That’s a long time. Of course. Detectives often do hold back information within an unsolved case, so that they can hopefully weed out any false leads.

Photo from Alissa’s Facebook profile.

Multiple news outlets reported that Alissa McCrann had no known history of mental health struggles and had never expressed nor shown signs of being suicidal. She would not leave her family, her son especially, OR her friends, intentionally. Not without at least saying goodbye. Still. Bottom of the theory list for me personally, along with suicide. According to friends, she was the type of person who would’ve signed in for the hike as well, where the fee boxes and trail map is at any National or State Forest Trailhead. Doing so, helps establish a timeline should any hikers get lost. Alissa’s disappearance was either an accident. Or it wasn’t. Her disappearance is a tragedy, regardless. All we currently have to go on, points to Multnomah Falls. Hence the massive search efforts by search and rescue teams. But still nothing. No sign of foul play has ever been indicated, either. Publicly, at least.

So why does it feel like a HUGE piece of the puzzle is missing, in order to find Alissa? It’s that damned phone. The cell phone PING can easily be shrugged off as inaccurate and unreliable technology. But not the GPS tracking from Facebook and from Foursquare. Facebook alone, will indeed, track your phone. Even when it’s turned off. That means Alissa’s phone COULD still be IN the area where it last was traced to. Alissa was frequently active on both Facebook and Foursquare. According to a 2014 article by Charles Arthur via The Guardian, Facebook and Foursquare intentionally scramble someone’s exact location. But they’re capable of pinpointing a GPS location far more precise than the half mile radius that Facebook’s Friends Nearby feature provides. For such a MASSIVE company like Facebook, for example. You would certainly think that those records COULD still be attainable, if requested. It’s worth a shot.

Alissa could very well still be up above Multnomah Falls. Waiting to be recovered and brought home someday. But there’s still a possibility that she could not be in the Cascade Locks region. For the record. I am NOT hoping for an alternative outcome to Alissa McCrann being lost on the trails. Unless, she is somehow miraculously alive like Elizabeth Smart. Jaycee Dugard. Michelle Knight. Amanda Berry. Gina DeJesus. It’s not impossible. But regardless if she is alive, or no matter what happened. Alissa Marie McCrann deserves to be found. And if there’s even the SLIGHTEST chance that Alissa may be in need of justice. She deserves no stone left unturned from all of us. Because I don’t even know her. But based upon the fond memories I was privileged to have heard from those who knew Alissa McCrann, I have no doubt she would never quit searching. Loyal teammate, through and through.

Please know that my sharing Alissa McCrann’s disappearance, or ANY of the unsolved cases that I cover are not researched & written for entertainment purposes. Nor is my intent to be disrespectful in any way. My blog and podcast are dedicated to advocating. I know that Alissa’s loved ones are in so much pain from her absence and that my heart goes out to every single one.

My hope is that new tips and leads are sent in to the Portland Police Bureau detectives working Alissa’s case. If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Alissa Marie McCrann, please contact Detective Heidi Helwig with the Portland Police Bureau by emailing missing@portlandoregon.gov or call 503-823-3333.

Keep searching and sleuthing until Alissa McCrann is found. Thanks for listening and for advocating.

Sources

Fanno Creek Regional Trail – Maplets (mobilemaplets.com)

Dragon Boat Festival Story – Legend of Qu Yuan (travelchinaguide.com)

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – Multnomah Falls (usda.gov)

2 dead in N. Portland house explosion (koin.com)

Missing Person Case (namus.gov)

Multnomah Falls Lodge

Eagle Creek Fire – Wikipedia

Can Thermal Imaging See Through Walls? And Other Common Questions | FLIR Systems

Missing woman’s car found at Multnomah Falls; search and rescue activated – oregonlive.com

Missing Person Case (namus.gov)

Tualatin River Greenway Trail | The City of Tualatin Oregon Official Website

GPS can spy on you, even when you turn it off (cnbc.com)

Missing Hiker Anna Schmidt – Oregon (Remains Found) – Pappyspost

Facebook Nearby Friends: a first step in making tech more human | Location based services | The Guardian

Ariel Castro – Victims, Death & Children – Biography

Qu Yuan – Wikipedia

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