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Family of missing Star woman asks public to aid in search

Deborah Hendrichs, 56, disappeared in January after running out of gas on Interstate 84 outside of Meacham, Oregon.

STAR, Idaho — Note: The video above is from a Feb. 20 interview with the missing woman's family.

The family of missing Star woman Deborah Hendrichs is asking the public to share any information that could lead investigators to her location, according to the Idaho Press.

Hendrichs, 56, went missing just after 5 p.m. on Jan. 11 after running out of gas on Interstate 84 near Meacham, Oregon, roughly two hours northwest of Ontario. According to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Hendrichs turned off her cellphone and left home in a black Toyota RAV4 (Idaho plate number DCU94) just after 9 a.m. that day.

Her sisters Rhonda Dunn and Cindy Taylor, as well as her husband John Hendrichs, said that family and friends are still searching for her and are calling on the public to share any possible tips with law enforcement.

Hendrichs’ family members said she left her home in a state of distress. Witnesses who spoke with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office told investigators Hendrichs had an argument with a relative that morning before she left the house, prompting her to turn off her phone.

Family members initially suspected Hendrichs may have driven into the mountains, according to investigators, though they were unsure where, and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office specified on social media that she did not take her purse, warm clothes, or essential medication she would need to spend time in the mountains.

“Her family is very concerned about her safety,” the office wrote last month.

Law enforcement including the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, the Valley County Search and Rescue K-9 Unit, and federal investigators are all involved in the ongoing search for Hendrichs.

Hendrichs has been employed by Les Schwab Tire Center for 37 years.

“She has never met a stranger. She’s the kindest, nicest, most selfless person you’ll ever meet,” Dunn said. “Every person that she has met — she makes them feel special, she lets them know that they’re loved.”

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office said Monday the investigation is particularly complicated as it’s taking place across state lines and with the help of private search and rescue groups. In a statement, the office wrote Hendrichs was last seen by her SUV on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84.

Hendrichs had reached out to the Oregon Department of Transportation letting them know she had run out of gas. The person she reached did not have any gas but contacted the Oregon State Police to report what happened. Hendrichs’ SUV was abandoned when the trooper arrived.

Authorities did not find footprints, tire tracks or any other signals indicating the manner in which Hendrichs left the vehicle. The trooper who arrived on scene did, however, notice pickup stopped along the side of the highway about one-quarter to one-half mile from where Hendrichs’ SUV was parked as he was responding to the call, “but that truck was gone after he turned around to go back to where Hendrichs’ SUV had been,” wrote Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr.

The Minnesota-based Jon Francis Foundation, which helps search for missing persons, requested assistance from the Valley County Search and Rescue K-9 unit, a nonprofit, to lead the search efforts for Hendrichs. With the support of Oregon State Police and Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, the unit conducted a large search effort on Feb. 12-13 with four certified cadaver dogs, handlers and flankers, Hendrichs’ family told reporters.

That search included more than 100 hours of team preparation, meetings, and logistical planning and 26 hours of field search, the family wrote in a statement to the media.

The family is desperate for answers.

“I’ve always told her that even if she wasn’t my sister, she’d still be my best friend,” Dunn said. “If there’s anybody out there that has any information on her whereabouts or that might have seen someone on January 11 on I-84 — if they saw a person walking or saw somebody pick her up — please, we’re begging you. Call 911 or the Ada County Sheriff’s Office,” she added.

“It’s day 44. It’s the most helpless feeling in the world.”

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