Owen Klinger is a University of Portland freshman and lacrosse player who was missing since Sunday, October 6, 2019. Family, friends, and the university community banded together in an effort to highlight his disappearance and find him. On October 21, his parents announced heartbreaking news: They believe Owen’s body has been found.
Klinger’s parents released a statement on the Find Owen Klinger Facebook page on October 21. It read, “Portland police have notified us that they have recovered a body that we believe is our son, Owen Klinger. We deeply appreciate the extraordinary effort and support that thousands of people have provided over the past two weeks. We now ask for privacy as we move forward with our healing process.” The cause of death was not revealed. Police do not suspect foul play.
According to Fox12, the body was discovered in the Willamette River in northwest Portland, specifically, in the area of the 9400 block of Northwest St. Helens Road near the St. Johns Bridge.
There aren’t many clues. He was spotted withdrawing cash and leaving campus, bookbag and all. Then, he vanished. There is a major effort underway by Portland police and others to locate the teenager. There is a Facebook page devoted to finding Klinger. You can see that here. There is also a GoFundMe page set up to help the family fund the massive search effort. “Every little bit helps us find Owen and support the Klingers through this difficult time,” the page reads.
Police now say that Klinger “believe Owen had been watching videos about hopping freight trains. The direction he was walking was an area where freight trains are commonly staged. He had also watched the movie Into the Wild in which a young man leaves to go to Alaska to ‘go live off the grid.'” The Finding Owen Klinger Facebook page responded by saying, “Today’s police press release caused some confusion, but one thing we know is Owen is still missing! Bring him home.” His cell phone was turned off (as opposed to the battery dying), according to KGW8.
Portland police Sgt. Brad Yakots said in a video interview with KGW8 that there’s a “few things we do know…Owen walked away from the University of Portland campus…we haven’t really had any leads since then.”
Klinger withdrew money from an ATM on campus “and then walked away. We have video evidence of him walking away from campus.”
He was researching “train hopping. He was walking toward areas where you would get on a train to travel. We also know he was into the movie Into the Wild, which shows someone going up to the Alaskan wilderness to live.” There’s no evidence of foul play but also no leads. “It’s more likely than not that he left on his own wishes…we would like him to contact someone just to let us know he’s OK. He’s an adult. We are keeping that in mind too.” However, police have assigned a missing person’s detective to the disappearance.
Police initially said Owen had turned off his phone. However, they later corrected the latter, saying “the phone has not been sending or receiving data,” according to KOIN.com, and they also now say he wad walking west on North Willamette Boulevard, not north as they originally stated. The television station reported that Owen’s mom says the train hopping videos are being over emphasized.
“Those train-hopping videos were just one of 50 channels Owen had subscribed to on his YouTube feed,” Mary said to KOIN. “When we looked in his YouTube search history and his recent viewing history, we don’t see that he has even looked at those videos any time in the recent past.”
The disappearance is baffling to those who know Klinger because they say he was a seemingly happy athletic freshman who was getting good grades. No one’s reported noticing anything amiss before he simply vanished into thin air. Owen’s mom, Mary Klinger, told Fox12: “This is not like him at all, he’s our middle child, he’s the peacekeeper and doesn’t rock the boat. In his friend group, he gets them all together and gets things going, he’s a great kid.”
Owen’s family is not convinced by the train hopping theory. “He did watch the movie ‘Into the Wild,’ so that’s one of the police’s theories, he also watched ‘Ocean’s Eleven,’ but I don’t think he’s hijacked any art in the last week,” Dustin Klinger, Owen’s father, said to KGW8, which added that Owen’s parents believed he would not have left cold weather gear back in his dorm.
“We don’t believe he hopped a freight train to Alaska and so we’re a little frustrated with Portland police who have promulgated that theory, but they assure us that they’re also looking into other leads and issues they have,” Dustin Klinger said to the television station. “We just tell people we’re not done searching for Owen. We haven’t given up on him.”
“We will pretty strongly that he knowingly left on his own will. We don’t know yet whether something unfortunately additionally happened to him,” Yakots said, adding that it’s illegal to travel on trains.
According to the Find Owen Klinger Facebook page:
If you see Owen: call 911
If you have a solid lead or info: contact the police at 503-823-1081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a suggestion or want to volunteer: email FindOwenK@gmail.com
Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Is a Photograph of Klinger Leaving Campus
The Find Owen Klinger Facebook page shared the above photos and wrote, “This is Owen leaving his dorm on Oct 6, 2019 and Owen on a sunny day☀️?? ? Please help us find Owen! #findOwen.”
Portland Police wrote in a news release that 18-year-old Owen Klinger “was last seen on the University of Portland’s campus in Northeast Portland around 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening” October 6.
“Owen is 6’1″, 165 pounds and was last seen wearing light-blue hooded sweatshirt, jeans and a drawstring backpack,” police wrote. “The picture of Owen facing away from the camera shows the actual clothes he was wearing Sunday evening. School officials say it’s unusual for him to go more than a day without contacting loved ones.” Police asked anyone with information to call 911. However, Owen’s mom told KGW that her son left his “main backpack” and his laptop in his dorm room when he left. No one knows what was in the smaller backpack he left with. He has no vehicle.
“Owen Klinger, a first-year, student has been reported missing by his schoolmates and family,” the university wrote in a statement. “He was last seen leaving Christie Hall on UP’s campus at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 6. Any individuals with pertinent information should contact UP Public Safety at (503) 943-7161.”
“UP shares in the concern of Owen’s family, roommates and friends in seeking knowledge of his whereabouts. For Owen to go more than 24 hours without any contact with those who know him is unusual. Anyone who may have seen or had contact with Owen since Sunday night is urged to call University of Portland Public Safety at (503) 943-7161; or the Portland Police Bureau (503) 823-3333. With the community’s help, we hope and pray for Owen’s safe return.”
2. Owen Was a Lacrosse Player But He Didn’t Show Up for Practice & Instead Withdrew Cash From an ATM
According to KPTV, Klinger told his roommates that he was going to a lacrosse practice, but didn’t take his normal gear. He didn’t show up for practice, which is also considered unusual.
According to police, “18-year-old Owen Klinger left the University of Portland campus on Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 7:50 p.m. Owen told his friends that he was going to a team meeting. Detectives were able to confirm that Owen did not attend any team meeting nor was one scheduled.”
They continued: “Based on the investigation, we know Owen withdrew money from an ATM on campus. He then turned off his cell phone before leaving campus. He is observed walking on North Willamette Boulevard at North Portsmouth Avenue towards North Lombard Street. Investigators believe he continued north towards North Columbia Boulevard on foot.”
His mother told KGW, “One of the things he said he was going to do Sunday night that he didn’t do – was go to lacrosse practice. He was a little evasive when he was talking to his roommates – that he was going to practice, but he didn’t have his gear, and they asked him about that and he said, ‘Well it’s a lacrosse meeting.’ And then he didn’t go to that.”
Instead, it’s been documented that he withdrew cash from a campus ATM, although no one knows why. He was then seen briefly on another surveillance video nearby, but that was it.
“Portland Police did find a TriMet video, the bit where he was outside a bus last seen walking on Portsmouth toward Lombard,” Dustin Klinger, his dad, said to KPTV. “We’ve been canvassing the area trying to see if businesses will share video to figure out which way he may have gone.”
KXL reported that, according to Owen’s mom, authorities “got a ping off Owen’s cell phone around 8:30 Sunday night, near a bus stop on the edge of campus. Police are working with TriMet to see if he got on a bus.” His phone “went dark” later Sunday evening, the site reported. It was later determined that he didn’t get in the bus and left his bicycle behind, Oregon Live reported.
A family friend described Klinger as athletic to KGW8-TV. “This is so unlike Owen and just so baffling to everyone that we’re just doing what we can to support the family,” said Michelle Kinsella to the television station.
“He’s a great kid, very athletic, played lacrosse for University of Portland, just a real curious, very sincere kid, a real helper, and just the kind of person you want to be growing up in our world,” Kinsella said to KGWB.
3. Klinger Was Getting Good Grades & Seemed Happy; He Was Described as Stable & Responsible
Klinger’s disappearance has vexed investigators and left his family distraught. His mother told KPTV that he seemed happy and was getting good grades.
Kaylee Deloye told KATU-TV that she was Owen’s workshop leader on campus in an effort designed to help freshmen with the transition to college. She didn’t notice anything amiss with Klinger.
“Owen’s doing great. He’s one of my most constant, stable, responsible students,” said Deloye to the television station. “He seems to be doing great with his classes. And academically and emotionally is something I check in on with each of them, and there was never any alarm with him.”
4. Owen’s Family Has Launched a Major Effort to Find Him
Klinger is from a tight-knit family, and his parents have been front and center in the search efforts.
“All we can ask is that you please keep an eye out,” Owen’s dad said in a video (above) shared on Facebook. His mother also shared a video, which you can see here.
The family has also spoken publicly at a vigil.
“We want Owen to know how much he’s loved by us, and this community,” Owen’s mother, Mary Klinger, said at that vigil. “We want him to know how much we love him, unconditionally.”
5. A Candlelight Vigil Was Held at the University for Klinger
The University of Portland voiced the campus support for efforts to find Klinger.
“Last night our UP community came together for a candlelight vigil in support of student Owen Klinger. We turn to our faith during difficult times like these as we await news about Owen,” the university tweeted. “The UP community joins with the Klinger family in prayerful hope for Owen’s safe return.”
The Find Owen Klinger shared photos of other search efforts. “Here are some photos from our efforts today. Wow, we are tremendously thankful to everyone for your ongoing support, concern, & commitment to finding Owen,” the page wrote.
One post on the page reads: “We Believe — Owen you are so loved!”