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Searchers prepare to look '24-7' for missing Medford couple

Search teams are gearing up for an overnight hunt for a Medford couple that failed to return from a trip to find the perfect Christmas tree on Tuesday.

Keith and Jennifer Lee were reported missing shortly after 7 this morning by a family friend. Jennifer Lee, 38, had called the friend Tuesday to pick up her 8-year-old daughter from school while Lee and her 36-year-old husband cut a Christmas tree. The couple never returned to pick up the girl.

Although searchers had limited information about where the couple might have gone, they focused their efforts today on the forested hills west of Medford, particularly the Anderson Butte area where the family got last year’s tree.

About 40 volunteers drove back roads between Talent and Ruch looking for the Lees’ bright blue 2002 Subaru Impreza sedan with Crater Lake license plate CK 94874, or other sign of the couple, said Jackson County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Rowland, who oversees the search and rescue team. Two helicopters searched from the air when the fog cleared.

Teams found nothing.

New information from the family’s home in the 3000 block of Clearview Drive and from a Forest Service employee who issued their tree-cutting permit Monday turned searchers attention to the east side of the valley, particularly the area where Highway 140 intersects with forest road 37 near Fish Lake.

Search teams from Jackson and Klamath counties planned to work through the night, searching from trucks, snowmobiles and Sno-Cats, Rowland said.

“We are 24-7 on this until we find them,” he said, adding that three helicopters were poised to search from the air on Thursday as needed.

- Anita Burke

Police have released this photo of Keith and Jennifer Lee's Subaru. The pair are missing after telling a friend they were going hunting Tuesday for a Christmas tree.