By Cary Rosenbaum
WINTHROP – Almost a year from the date local authorities began searching for a missing Freeland woman in the Pasayten Wilderness, remains discovered Wednesday by hunters could be a match.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Thursday that everything at the scene suggests the remains of Melissa M. Kerrigan were found by hunters 6.5 miles from Billy Goat Trailhead, where her vehicle was discovered Sept. 29, 2011.
Kerrigan was 27 when she was reported missing. At the time, search parties scoured across at least 18 miles of the rough terrain before pulling out.
Two hunters had been in the wilderness for three days, when they came across a backpack Wednesday and started noticing bones, Rogers said. Officers responded Wednesday morning, and left the scene around 6 p.m.
“If you’ve ever been in Pasayten, it’s a lot of up and down, up and down,” Rogers said. “If you’re going to get in there, you better be in shape.”
The Island County Sherriff’s Office was notified and was planning to contact Kerrigan’s family last night to advise them of the find.
The remains were sent for DNA testing.
“Once this is all in and we get the results of the DNA, it will give the family some closure,” Rogers said.
Kerrigan left her family a suicide note last year stating she was going into the wilderness to end her life.