Derrick James Engebretson

1 2
3 4 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Engebretson, circa 1998;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to 18 (circa 2008)

Bar

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: December 5, 1998 from Bonanza, Oregon
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: July 5, 1990
  • Age: 8 years old
  • Height and Weight: 4'6, 85 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Engebretson has dog bite scars on his chin, between his nostrils and under his nose. He has a cowlick. His nickname is Bear Boy due to his love of the outdoors.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A blue snowmobile suit, a size 12 or 14 denim jacket, navy blue Route 66 pants, a black sweatshirt, an Oakland A's t-shirt, a hat, felt-lined camouflage-print boots and gloves with the Goosebumps logo.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Engebretson was looking for a Christmas tree in the Rocky Point area of Winema National Forest in Klamath County, Oregon on December 5, 1998. He wandered away from his father and grandfather during the day and apparently became lost. Engebretson has never been seen again.

    Extensive air and ground searches yielded few clues as to Engebretson's whereabouts. A blizzard hit the area the evening he was reported missing and obliterated any tracks that might have been there; the weather also hampered search efforts.

    Volunteers discovered a candy wrapper and a Bonanza School bookmark near Rocky Point several days after Engebretson disappeared. Blood of an unknown origin was also located at the scene. It is not known if the materials were connected to Engebretson's case, although he was enrolled at the school in 1998. Also found on the mountain were shoestrings, a tag torn off a t-shirt, and eyeglasses. It is not thought that these particular items are connected to Engebretson. A crude shelter made of fir boughs under several fallen logs are located on the mountain, but tracker dogs at the site did not seem to detect Engebretson's scent. In the days following his disappearance the temperature dipped below zero and there was a great deal of snow and wind; police are of the opinion that Engebretson could not have survived long on the mountain.

    Authorities investigated Engebretson's case as a possible abduction shortly after he disappeared. An unidentified adult male was driving a black Honda in the Rocky Point area on December 5. A photo of a vehicle similar to the man's car is posted below this case summary. The individual reportedly asked for directions while in the forest. A witness allegedly saw an unidentified individual struggling with a young boy near the area later in the day. The witness did not stop because he assumed the man was the boy's father. Investigators do not know if the incident is related to Engebretson's case. Authorities also speculated that he succumbed to the elements in the forest. Engebretson's father and grandfather have both taken polygraphs and are not considered suspects.

    In 1999, police discovered graffiti scrawled on the wall of a public restroom that they thought might have a connection to Engebretson's disappearance. They never released the wording of the graffiti, but a portion of the wall was removed and sent to a state laboratory for analysis. Investigators eventually concluded that the writing was a cruel joke.

    In 2004, investigators announced that convicted child rapist Frank J. Milligan is the prime suspect in Engebretson's disappearance. Milligan, a former aide in a children's psychiatric ward, is serving a sixty-year prison sentence for kidnapping a ten-year-old boy in 2000, raping him, and slashing his throat. The child survived the attack. Milligan also was convicted of sexually abusing an eleven-year-old boy.

    Authorities theorize that Engebretson made it to the roadside on the day of his disappearance and was picked up by Milligan. An inmate of Milligan's told police and Engebretson's family that he bragged about killing the missing boy while in prison. When authorities confronted him, he confessed to killing the child. He said he would plead guilty to the murder if he was spared the death penalty. He offered to lead investigators to his body, but a search turned up nothing and Milligan later recanted his confession. He has not been charged in connection with Engebretson's case but is still considered a strong suspect.

    Engebretson carried a small hatchet at the time of his disappearance. His father says he is accustomed to mountain terrain and routinely walked distances up to twenty miles through the southern Oregon countryside. Engebretson enjoyed reading R. L. Stine's Goosebumps books series at the time he went missing. His case is unoslved.

    Car
    Above: Vehicle similar to the model reportedly driven by an
    unidentified male on the day of Engebretson's disappearance

    Bar

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Klamath County Sheriff's Office
    541-883-5130

    Bar

    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    The Columbian
    The Oregonian
    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Oregon State Police
    The Medford Mail Tribune
    Better a Millstone
    Chat Area
    Derrick James Engebretson
    NamUs

    Bar

    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated November 23, 2010; distinguishing characteristics and clothing/jewelry description updated.

    Charley Project Home