ELSIE - Clatsop County Sheriff's deputies investigating the death of Audrey Karge of Seaside are looking for a man last seen attempting to solicit a ride in the area of the Baker Store near Elsie March 13.

The man is James Donald Clark, 46. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and has dark brown hair.

Authorities say he was associated with Audrey Karge in the weeks prior to her death.

Clatsop County Sheriff's Detective Michael Smith said he's still trying to determine exactly what happened. "They were very strange circumstances," he said.

Karge, 71, was found by an Oregon State Police trooper and a Clatsop County deputy on a logging road near Elsie late Sunday evening. She was in poor condition and suffering from hypothermia. A Medix Ambulance crew transported her to Seaside Providence Hospital, where her condition deteriorated and she died.

Authorities said Clark was a long-time family friend. He had known Karge for more than 25 years and had been living with Karge's family.

On Feb. 9, he was arrested in Seaside on charges of possession of methamphetamine and driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was also initially charged with kidnapping Karge - a charge that was dropped because there was no basis for it. Karge said she had not been kidnapped, said Smith.

The next day, Clark was bailed out of jail, and with his wife Jenny and Karge, he went on a road trip. It is known that the three made it to Nevada before returning.

Clark missed a court date for methamphetamine and DUII charges and a warrant was issued.

On March 11, Karge had contact with her family and said she was with Clark of her own free will. That was Karge's last contact with family members. Sometime during that day, Clark and Jenny Clark separated.

That evening there was a pursuit in Tillamook involving a car that matched descriptions of the vehicle in which Clark and Karge were believed to be traveling.

On March 13, Clark had contact with people at the Baker Store. Two days later, recreational users of the wooded area near Elsie, at approximately milepost 22 on U.S. Highway 26, found Karge and went for help. They contacted the Oregon State Police, who contacted the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Tom Bergin said deputies want to talk with Clark regarding the events surrounding Karge's death. Anyone having knowledge of Clark's whereabouts is asked contact any local law enforcement agency in their area immediately.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Smith with the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office at (503) 325-8635 ext. 2409.

Smith reminds people if they come into contact with Clark not to confront him. They should contact local law enforcement officers.

Karge was married with three grown daughters. A former hairdresser and KSWB Radio station owner, she was director of the Seaside Visitors Bureau until her retirement in 2007. She worked on numerous community activities, including the Seaside Marathon, the Beach Volleyball Tournament and the annual Dixieland Jazz Festival.


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