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Deputies believe missing Silverton teen fell victim to 'catfishing' scheme

Ezra Mayhugh, 17, has not been seen since walking into work on Oct. 15.

SILVERTON, Ore. — Eclectic, artistic and musical is how Rex Mayhugh describes his son, Ezra.

"As far as music goes he loves all different instruments," Mayhugh said. "He's a huge Van Halen fan."

Unfortunately, the Mayhugh family's Silverton-area home has been quiet for weeks. The sound of music is nowhere to be found.

"It's not a good feeling," Mayhugh said. "The last two months have been the hardest thing me and my wife have gone through in our whole lives."

That is because Ezra Mayhugh is missing.

Credit: Rex Mayhugh
Ezra Mayhugh (far right) with brothers and parents.

Family tells KGW that Ezra Mayhugh was dropped off for his morning shift at the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton on Oct. 15. Later that day, Mayhugh texted his parents to say he was working a double. When they went to pick him up that night, he was not there.

"Red flags went up," Rex Mayhugh said. "We're a small-town family. For one of our kids not to be there is huge."

The Mayhughs alerted authorities who thought Mayhugh might have run away. Both law enforcement and family poked around and came up with one theory.

"He was involved in a catfishing scam," Rex Mayhugh said.

"It's where someone is creating a fake persona online and using it to lure a person in whether it be into a relationship, whether it be into trying to get them to give money," Sgt. Jeremy Landers of the Marion County Sheriff's Office added.

Credit: Marion Co. Sheriff's Office
Anyone who has had contact with Ezra should call Det. M.J. Sphoon at 503-588-6808.

Sgt. Landers cannot get into specifics about the catfishing scheme or even if it rises to a criminal level.

"I don't think we have enough information to know that," Landers said. "Our main focus is to help the family locate Ezra and get him back to safety."

But where exactly is Ezra Mayhugh?

Family believes he traveled from Silverton to Salem before going to Seattle. That is where the trail goes cold.

"We don't know if he's met someone out there and he's trafficked," Rex Mayhugh said.

Regardless, the family wants nothing more than for their son to come home for the holidays.

"I'd give my right arm for him to be home," Rex Mayhugh said. I'd give all my wealth. It's your son. This is my child."

Anyone with information about Ezra's whereabouts is urged to contact the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

In the meantime, parents who need social media safety tips can find them at iRespect&Protect.

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