PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) –
A woman says she was lured into the woods last week after following fake “outdoor bathroom” signs at Forest Park in Portland, Oregon.
The woman, who didn’t want to be named, said she was startled by a man lurking behind a tree where she was looking for a restroom.
“I step over a log and there is a huge tree and a man standing there,” she said. She screamed and called for her husband, but the mysterious man didn’t flinch. That was an indication to her that something wasn’t right. “It’s scary, you know? Like, I’ve seen one, but how many of them have seen us out in nature? It’s the creepiest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Portland Parks & Recreation Spokesperson Mark Ross said park rangers tried to track down the man and the laminated sign, but couldn’t find either. They increased patrols in the area and, as a result, found the sign Thursday morning. Not only that, but they found the man police said admitted to posting it.
Park rangers said they called Portland police officers for backup before confronting the man. They asked him to come out of the woods, but he ran off. Rangers said they monitored at all possible exits and spotted him leaving in his vehicle.
Soon after he left, police found him and stopped him. The man allowed the officers search both his cell phone and vehicle. Investigators told KPTV that nothing suspicious turned up. The man was not charged with any crime, but he was issued a park exclusion for six months. Police said that if he shows up in Forest Park again, he’ll technically be trespassing.
Officers said the behavior is concerning to community members and that they will be working with the Parks Bureau in responding to the incident.
When something like this happens, especially in a public space, personal safety becomes a huge concern. But some already have a safety plan in place.
“I definitely keep pepper spray on me, always,” said Maddie Woodson, who was running on the trails. “You just never know. If you’re out there in the forest by yourself, you have headphones in, you’re just not aware, it’s definitely important for people to think about.”
The man’s face has not been shown because he has not been charged with a crime. KPTV spoke to the man’s mother who said her son is getting help.