Where is Patti Krieger?

One year later, still more questions than answers in missing Sauk Mountain hiker case.
By Jason Miller
posted 10.10.11

This is a story with very few answers.

We know that Patti Krieger went hiking on Sauk Mountain with a group of six friends on Sat., Oct. 2, 2010. One of those hikers was her then-boyfriend, Larry Pressley. One of the purposes of the hike was to spread the ashes of Pressley’s deceased parents.

After the hikers summited, scattered the ashes, and began their descent, Pressley stated that Krieger became upset and took a different trail down the mountain from the rest of the group. Her dog, a Rottweiler named Bear, went with her. No one else in her party went with her, even though she was 65 at the time, hearing-impaired, and did not have a cell phone or ID with her. Members of the group later stated they assumed the trails would reconnect and they would meet up with her and Bear at the trailhead.

They never did, and Krieger has not been seen since.

The searches
Skagit County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and Skagit County Search and Rescue (SAR) began searching later that day and during the next two days. They were aided by Whatcom, Snohomish, and King County Search and Rescue teams. There were search dogs. The SCSO brought in a helicopter with FLIR (thermal imaging) technology.

They found nothing.

On Oct. 4, SCSO suspended the search, stating they didn’t believe Krieger was on the mountain.

“Early on we did a thorough search of all areas that were conceivably reached in the time period she was initially missing,” said Chief Deputy Tom Molitor with the SCSO in a Sept. 30 interview. “We were comfortable with the extent of the search and the thoroughness of it.”

Krieger’s family members, friends, and co-workers from the Burlington Fred Meyer—where she worked—are less convinced she is no longer on the mountain. Chris Nelson, a journeyman food clerk at Fred Meyer whom Krieger hired 16 years ago, began a “Find Patti Krieger” Facebook page and has coordinated vigils and rallies to keep her name top of mind among the general public. Another friend, Bud Carr, has coordinated numerous searches with Nelson, spending hundreds of hours scouring the slopes of Sauk Mountain. Krieger’s son, Alan Patterson, and other family members also have spent long days—sometimes risking life and limb—combing back roads and overgrown trails for any sign of Krieger.

Few searchers believe Krieger is still alive; they simply want to find her body and reach some kind of closure to the ordeal.

Leads getting thin
Credible leads have dwindled since Krieger went missing, and the rumor mill—especially on Facebook—is compounding the problem, said Patterson.

“Facebook has been an Achilles heel in this situation. It’s been giving info to every-body; it’s like a poker game where you can see the other guy’s cards,” he said. “I’ve heard some pretty hellacious rumors.”

Patterson openly points the finger at Pressley, suspecting foul play. Patterson encountered Pressley on Sauk Mountain Rd. two days after Krieger’s disappearance, a fact that he finds suspicious.

“What was Larry Pressley doing up there alone, shortly after she went missing? Some of the best profiling says that 99 percent of people who commit crimes where there’s a body to be disposed of—99 percent of the time, they go back to where the body is.

“One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Larry knows where my mom’s remains are, and what happened to her on that day,” said Patterson.

No charges have been filed against Pressley. Molitor said the investigation into Krieger’s disappearance is ongoing.

Do you know where Patti is?

Law enforcement, Search & Rescue, and Patti Krieger’s friends and family welcome any leads as to her whereabouts. Here’s how to connect:

Tip line: 360.419.7785
SCSO: 360.336.9450

An undated photo of Patti Krieger. Submitted photo.

A group of searchers gathered at the Sauk Mountain parking lot Sept. 17 to conduct another search of the area where Patti Krieger went missing on Oct. 2, 2010. Krieger’s son, Alan Patterson, is fourth from the right, with his arm around Keith Kirchgesler, a Big Lake resident who has been one of the more prominent volunteers at searches and area parades. Chris Nelson, second from left, worked with Krieger at the Burlington Fred Meyer and is administering the “Find Patti Krieger” Facebook page. Photo by Frank Knight.

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