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Family hires private investigator in hunt for Prineville woman, 83, missing nearly a month

'It's the unknowing that is the problem,' worried granddaughter says

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Prineville police and family members have been searching for 83-year-old Betty Counts for almost a month. After having an argument with her husband, the woman drove away in her 2008 White Infinity and was last seen in Washington state. Her family has not heard from her since July 4th.

Jenna Usher, Betty’s granddaughter, said Monday that the couple's arguments are not uncommon and that she has left about six times in the past. The difference is, she usually comes to stay with her after a quarrel.

“Three days later, she forgets and wants to go back home," Usher said.

Although the Betty is not diagnosed with dementia, Usher believes otherwise.

“I work in health care. I work with dementia patients and mental health patients on a daily basis, and I have since I was 18 years old," Usher said. "She has dementia. She definitely is just not remembering where she is supposed to be going."

Usher shared that her grandmother has been married for six years after meeting her current husband on and said she and her grandmother's husband have an estranged relationship.

She added that she and her grandmother are very close, so the situation is heartbreaking. Right now, she said, she’s working with a private investigator to get phone records.

Usher said she mainly has the support of her mom and aunt, and they're doing all they can to find Betty.

“It’s the unknowing that is the problem," Usher said. "It’s hot, it’s hot over here. We don’t know if she’s okay, if she’s hungry, if she’s stuck, if she’s thirsty."

The family’s private investigator, James Terry, shared his speculation.

“I would say there is a 90% chance that the vehicle is somewhere that has not been seen yet," he said. "It is in the middle of a circle farm. It is in a logging road. It is parked on a gravel trailhead that hasn’t been visited in the last 29 days. And there’s a very good chance that she was disoriented, tired, scared, and probably pulled off to the side of the road to rest."

He added that missing-person situations happen frequently, especially in the Pacific Northwest, and offered a piece of advice to others, to avoid the worry and potential heartache.

“Put trackers on people's phones. Do any sort of an app where you can follow someone, especially if you have an older relative. Also a GPS on a vehicle. Might cost you a couple of bucks, 20, 30 bucks a month," Terry said.

Usher asked that police be called immediately if anyone has any information on her grandmother's whereabouts.

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.



  1. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe she doesn’t want to be found? It says in the article she has left her husband six times in the past. Can’t the police track Credit cards and what not and ping her phone if they really thought she was in danger?

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