December 27, 2007 New lead goes cold causing investigation of missing Ashland man to stall again
By Michele Mihalovich
Ashland Daily Tidings
The mother of a man who went missing in May 2006 is still holding out hope that he, or at least his body, will be found.
Patrick "Thatcher" Mahurin, who moved to Ashland with his family in 1997, disappeared from his Cave Junction trailer on Mother's Day. Mahurin, a 42-year-old with a severe learning disability, was known around the Ashland community for always carrying his keyboard with him, which he played at various venues around town.
He moved to Cave Junction two months before his disappearance. His mother, Lee Mahurin of Ashland, said she usually heard from him several times a day.
On Mother's Day, she said he called and played her a song on the keyboard that he'd written. After the song, he got back on the line and told her he loved her.
"I just had this really foreboding feeling," she said. "I called him right back and he was gone."
Lee has not been impressed with the investigation efforts of the Josephine County Sheriff's Department.
"When Thatcher went missing, he's an adult, so they didn't have to do anything. I tried to get search and rescue to look for him, but they didn't do anything either," she said.
Lee and her husband Al hired a private investigator this July, but she said the investigator didn't turn up anything they didn't already know.
Rumors of a possible grave in Lynne Newbury Park in Talent resulted in three searches by Jackson County Death Officer Tim Pike.
In an e-mail dated Nov. 28, Pike reported he brought two cadaver dog teams with him on the third search.
"The dogs did not alert on any terrain nor show interest on any area," he said, adding that he wished he had better news for her.
Lee said she's glad the rumor was finally put to rest because she has her own theories about what happened that day.
"He told several people he could get to Gold Beach on his bicycle by going through the woods on Long Mountain Road," she said. "He'd been sober for a week, but he might have fallen off the wagon, possibly taking a six pack with him and fallen."
Lee also said there are a lot of pot growers back there along the road.
"It's possible he may have bumped into the wrong kind of people," she said.
Thatcher had also told his brother that someone was going to shoot him if he got drunk again.
Lee believes that if the police officials had taken his missing person report more seriously at the beginning, Thatcher, or his body, would have been found by now.
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, who just started with the department this January, said that regardless of whether a person is a child or adult, the department does everything it can to find the person.
He said he thinks the case is just about ready to get turned over to the cold case files.
"We're extremely short-handed right now. We've been inundated with crimes lately and need a hot lead for us to make this a priority," he said. "I do understand how the family feels. If I had a family member who went missing, I'd be desperate, too. The only solace I can give right now is to say that the case will never be closed until it's solved. We just need a strong lead in the case."
Anyone with information regarding his disappearance should call the Josephine County Sheriff's Office at (541) 474-5153 x3523.