Lonnie Ray and Audrey Chavis, residents of Rosburg and subjects of a multi-state search, were finally located on March 28 in Hurricane, Utah.
The couple was normally communicative with their church family, landlord and employer. They were last seen on February 27 leaving their home with their dog. The unusual silence, empty home and a paycheck that waited for Lonnie at work sounded an alarm.
The Chavises were relatively new to the community and lived here for three years. The closest family member was a niece in the Renton area.
They did have a history of moving every two or three years, according to Detective Bill Tawater of the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheriff’s department monitored a family Facebook page that had been dedicated to finding the couple. Family members posted on it from time to time. On one occasion, someone posted that they were glad that Lonnie and Audrey had shown up and were okay.
“According to Facebook,” Detective Mike Balch said, “they had been found, but that wasn’t enough.”
Balch followed the lead and eventually spoke with Lonnie’s younger sister. She had heard that the couple had been camping in the desert in Utah and had shown up at an aunt’s house in southwest Utah.
After learning the aunt’s name, the detectives were finally able to locate and speak to her. They learned that Lonnie and Audrey were considering a move to Hurricane, Utah. Balch contacted the local police department who began a search.
Soon after, the detectives received confirmation from the Hurricane Police Department that they had seen Lonnie Ray and Audrey Chavis and that they were alive and well.
“We have to have law enforcement confirmation,” Tawater said.
“Their church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, did a lot to help us through the investigation,” Balch said. “They have a good network. It’s not like the Chavises grew up here or have roots here. We had to learn who they were, who their family were. Their family was in Utah and California.
“It’s really tough. What hampered the investigation was no phones, no GPS trackers, nothing in their cars or on their persons,” he said. “We were able to check their bank records every day, but there was no activity.
“A family member said they didn’t even know we were looking for them. Camping off the grid, they were hard to find.”