Two charged after search warrant served

Yesterday afternoon, the Union County Drug Taskforce served a search warrant at 2705 ½ Birch St in La Grande. Through the information gathered, as well as a traffic stop conducted by Oregon State Police, law enforcement was able to get approval from a Union County Circuit Court Judge to obtain a signed search warrant, which lists the items deputies were looking for and allows them to lawfully enter the residence to search for them.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Rose Morgan Willis, DOB 2-26-1989, and Phillip Robert Walsh, DOB 4-14-1984, were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance and frequenting a place where controlled substances are used. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will likely be added. There was also additional people within the residence and as the investigation continues, may also get criminally charged.

The deputies gathered a large quantity of suspected fentanyl, tar heroin, powder heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs in excess of $3000 estimated street value.

These arrests were made possible largely due to the drug taskforce being reinstated.

“Recently, changes have been made at the state level that have allowed us to reactivate the Drug Taskforce and actively go after certain activities related to drug trafficking and distribution.”

After Measure 110 was passed, the taskforce had to disband due to the decriminalization of small amounts of illegal drugs. With House Bill 2645, which gave law enforcement more standing to charge for illegal drugs, the taskforce has been reinstated. The taskforce will actively work toward stopping drug trafficking in Union County.

While that is a priority for the Sheriff’s Office, the mission statement for the agency is to provide Professional Law Enforcement Service with Honesty, Excellence, Respect, Integrity, Firmness, Fairness and with Compassion and Valor to the citizens of Union County. For the Sheriff’s Office, and for Sheriff Cody Bowen, keeping the compassion is important. One of these photos shows the Sheriff speaking to Walsh and Willis. Bowen, who knows one of the suspects well, took the time during the investigation to speak to her and ask her what led her down this path again.
“If we lose our compassion, then we lose a part of what makes this community great,” Bowen said.
UCSO would like to thank the Oregon State Police with their assistance in this investigation.

Body recovered from fatal vehicle accident

In the early afternoon of Saturday, August 26th, 2023, a family stopped at the Rock Springs overlook on the USFS 62 Road northeast of Cove, OR, found a crashed vehicle in the bushes below the cliff. They immediately contacted the Union County 911 dispatch to report the vehicle, and based on the vehicle description and items found in the area, it became apparent the vehicle likely belonged to Rebecca Lilleston, who was reported missing July 9, 2023.

: Rebecca Lilleston was reported missing July 9, 2023. At the time, her cell phone carrier provided 911 dispatch with a location estimate for her phone, which had an estimated accuracy of six miles. The location estimate is the area circled in the photo. LIlleston’s remains were found on Aug. 26. The location of her vehicle and remains are also shown in the photo.

When dispatch had originally pinged the phone, the coordinates given by the cell phone company indicated Rebecca was using her phone in the greater Mt. Harris area. Union County Sheriff Deputies immediately attempted to find Lilleston in the area of where her cell phone last showed activity. Since the initial report, deputies and members of the public have returned to the area to continue the search, including where the vehicle was ultimately located. Dense brush substantially obscured the view of the vehicle from the overlook, which is likely what prevented it from being located by prior search efforts.

Based on the very steep slope the vehicle was on, 11 personnel from Union County Search and Rescue and the La Grande Rural Fire Department responded to the scene to provide technical rope access and personnel to assist the sheriff’s office investigators. On arrival, the responders confirmed the vehicle and associated personal effects at the scene belonged to Rebecca Lilleston. Due to the nature of the crash, the driver of the vehicle appeared to have been unrestrained and subsequently ejected from the vehicle during the crash.

A brief search of the area near the vehicle by SAR and fire department personnel located human remains presumed to be Lilleston. Due to the very steep slopes, personnel at the scene used rope systems for both personal safety near the scene and to ensure a dignified recovery of the deceased.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Lilleston.

We want to thank the Union County Search and Rescue members, and the La Grande Rural Fire Department for their help in this recovery. As well as our appreciation to the community for both the volunteer search efforts and support they have provided to the family in this difficult time.

Pursuit ends in arrest

On Sunday, October 30th, 2022 at approximately 1225 hrs., a Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, attempted to contact Remington Pierre Miller (DOB-04/02/1987) at the Sinclair station in North Powder, OR. Mr. Miller, who had felony warrants for his arrest, fled in a vehicle and was pursued by the Union County Sheriff’s deputy, assisted by Oregon State Police. Mr. Miller abandoned his vehicle on Forrest Service Road 4350 and fled on foot with passenger McKinzie Breanna-Rose Simonis (DOB-06/18/1998) and their six month old child. The couple was tracked through snow covered woods by Deputy Dane Jensen and K-9 Molly assisted by Oregon State Police Troopers who eventually took them into custody at about 1655 hours.

Remington Miller was arrested and charged with Attempt to Elude in a Vehicle (811.540), Attempt to Elude on Foot (811.540), Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (163A.040), and two counts of Recklessly Endangering (163.195). He was also arrested on felony Klamath County warrants and a felony State Parole Board warrant.

McKinzie Simonis was arrested on a Union County warrant for Failure to Appear in the Second Degree (162.195). The six month old infant was listed as a missing person and there was a court order to place the child in state protective custody. Department of Human Services was contacted and responded, taking custody of the infant.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Human Services for their assistance.

Student brings fentanyl pills to school

On October 24th 2022 the Union County Sheriff’s Office received a report of suspected illegal pills located  by staff at the La Grande School District (Central School). A Deputy responded and located a pill bottle with a large amount of suspected Fentanyl pills contained inside. The pills were located in a seven-year-old students’ belongings. Upon further investigation the parents of the seven-year-old were contacted and interviewed regarding the suspected fentanyl pills. During the course of the investigation both parents of the seven-year-old were taken into custody.

(25-year-old) Troi Linn O’Quinn of La Grande was arrested and charged on the following charges:

(ORS 167.222) Frequenting a Place Where Controlled Substances Are Used.

(28-year-old) Attoway Reeder Davis of La Grande was arrested and charged on the following charges:

(ORS 167.222) Frequenting a Place Where Controlled Substances Are Used.

(ORS 163.575) Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.

(ORS 475.752) PCS Controlled Substances Fentanyl.

(ORS 163.195) Reckless Endangering.

The Department of Human Services was contacted for the safety of the children and are involved in the investigation.

This case is ongoing and still under investigation. No further details are available for release at this time.

Burglary leads to pursuit, arrest

On 10-7-2022 at around 2:49pm UCSO Deputies received a call of a burglary at CJ’s Country Store in North Powder. UCSO Deputies and Oregon State Police Troopers immediately responded towards North Powder area. The suspect vehicle fled the scene and were located a short time later by an OSP Trooper near mile post 261 on I-84. OSP attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the vehicle failed to yield and a pursuit ensued. During the pursuit, a safe that was identified as being stolen from CJ’s Country Store was thrown from the vehicle and later recovered. The vehicle eluded across the valley and into Alicel, where a Deputy was able to successfully deploy spike strips on the vehicle. The vehicle continued to elude north on Hwy 82 where it eventually left the roadway at a residence. The occupants then fled on foot. A UCSO Deputy assisted by an OSP Trooper were able to take five suspects into custody without further incident. The suspects involved were not local residents and not US Citizens.
They were arrested and transported to the Union County Correctional Facility where they were lodged the following charges:
Felony Elude Vehicle
Elude on Foot
Burglary II
Reckless Driving
Union County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Oregon State Police and the La Grande Police Department during the pursuit.
The investigation is ongoing any further details are not available for release at this time.

Deputies apprehend burglary suspects

On Friday, December 24th 2021 at about 8:30 AM, a Union County Deputy was patrolling Summerville Road and recognized a suspicious vehicle parked at a residence. A call to the property manager revealed the current tenant was gone and there should not have been anyone at the residence. Further investigation led to the arrest of Nikole L. Thamert (DOB-11/03/1974), Jon M. Weathers (DOB-07/18/1970) and Emily A. Wilson (DOB/03/21/1983) for Burglary in the First Degree, Conspiracy to Commit Burglary in the First Degree and Possession of Burglary Tools. The above named individuals were in the process of removing items from the residence and loading them in a vehicle. K-9 Molly was dispatched to the scene and assisted deputies and Oregon State Police Officers with locating one of the suspects who had attempted to hide.
Sheriff Bowen would like to thank the Union County Deputies involved and Oregon State Police for their assistance.

Contacting the Marine Deputy

To contact Deputy Tad Butcher, the Marine Deputy, during the months of September-May call 541 -963-1017 to leave a message. During the summer, May-August, he can be reached at 541-786-1054 or you can leave a message at 541-963-1017. He can also be contact by email at

Scam Alert

Many residents of Union County are receiving scam calls claiming they owe the IRS money.  Please understand this is a scam, the IRS would not call you about your taxes. DO NOT give them any information, simply hang up. Unfortunately there is nothing local law enforcement can do. The scammers are not located in Union County. If you would like to report reeving one of these calls you can call the Oregon Department of Justice at 1-877-8779392 or visit their website at

Boat Registration

You can now get your boat registration at the Sheriff’s Office. We have gotten the materials from the Marine Board and are ready to go. Hours for registration are Monday-Friday from 8-5.

Fillable PDF Forms

All of the forms on our web site are now fill-able PDFs. Most forms you can fill them out on line, save them and e-mail them to us. Some, like gun permits and job applications, you can fill out on line but then will need to print them out to sign them.