BEND, OR -- Investigators continue to search for 24-year-old Sara Gomez, despite the apparent suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Bryan Penner, suspected in her disappearance.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says he’s still not able to talk about some details in the ongoing missing-persons case, "These investigations are complicated; they often take turns that are unexpected. In the very beginning, as a police investigator, you go to the worst possible case scenario – which would be homicide – and work your way backwards, and hope it’s only a kidnapping or that it’s only a disappearance. You never assume that you’re dealing with only one suspect; you never assume that. We’ve had homicide investigations here, which I recall since I’ve been working here, where we went in assuming there was one suspect and it turns out there were three suspects." He tells KBND News they might be able to release more information in the future, "We have a few things we want to absolutely lock down and make sure: that we’re only dealing with one individual, that’s there’s no one out there who actually has the information that we can get to."
Gomez disappeared in mid-February, and the District Attorney has said blood, her clothing and phone were found in the Penner's apartment. Although Penner offered no information on her whereabouts prior to his death on Monday.
Chief Porter acknowledges this is an emotional missing-persons case, and he’s heard critics say police aren’t doing enough. "In this case, we brought in the FBI, the DEA, we brought in the Sheriff’s Office, we brought in all local police to help us. You know, we’ve spent countless hours working on electronic data that we’ve gathered, and then also we’ve hired helicopters – we’ve paid for helicopters to come out and search the areas. So, while it seems like we’ve not been doing a lot, we just have not been talking about it."
Search efforts have focused on areas east of Bend
and Gomez's friends and family say they will keep up their private searches. Porter says he understand their need to do something to help. "Quite often, families can be the greatest source of information – detailed, inside information for us – which has helped us turn in the right direction. Occasionally it can be challenging for us, if they decide to go out and search themselves. But, I think you have to look at it from the humanistic side; folks cannot sit home and wait for someone that they love to come home, and we appreciate that."
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