Missing Sitkan's family still hoping a year later

Disappearance may be linked to 'lifestyle'
Lael Grant

It’s been a year since the disappearance of a 33-year-old Sitka woman, Lael Grant, and her family is still hoping that new information will turn up that will lead to answers about what happened to her.


“Not much has changed, there are no new leads,” said Grant’s sister Erika Burkhouse, who lives in Juneau.

Grant, the mother of two, was last seen by family on Oct. 14, 2012, and by friends in the early hours of the next day.

Sitka police, family members, Sitka Mountain Rescue and other volunteers have conducted extensive searches of the area around Sitka since then, but no significant clues have turned up to shed light on the mystery of Grant’s whereabouts.

“It’s been a whole year, and it’s a long time,” said Burkhouse. “We’ve had no new leads for a long time – months and months since there’s been any new leads.”

Burkhouse said the case is still in the front of the minds of Grant’s friends and family. She said she regularly checks with the Sitka police department to see if there are any new leads. She said she was heartened to see the Facebook posts on the days around the anniversary of Grant’s disappearance.

“People haven’t forgotten; they still remember,” Burkhouse said. “But we haven’t had anyone come forward with information and say anything for a long time.”

However, Burkhouse said she believes there is still a possibility there will be a break in the case.

“Our hope is to put the word out again and hope someone remembers something; something they didn’t think was significant but could be the thing that turns into a lead,” she said.

Burkhouse said there is also the possibility that some people in Sitka have “cleaned up a little” and are no longer under the influence of drugs, and will decide to be helpful in the case.

She added that she was pleased to see the startup of a community task force on the problem of meth abuse. About 100 people turned out Tuesday night for the first meeting of “Together for a Meth Free Sitka.”

“I think that’s really good,” Burkhouse said. She explained that the family believes that Grant’s disappearance “is due to her lifestyle.”

Burkhouse said she and the family felt that the community of Sitka was not addressing its widespread drug problem, and that the work group on meth abuse, an outgrowth of the recent Sitka Health Summit, appears to be a start.

“I was waiting and waiting for something to happen,” Burkhouse said. She said meth use is a community problem, and resources should be available for fighting drugs and making treatment available.

The Sitka police detective originally in charge of the case has taken a job in Montana, and a new officer has now been assigned, said Lt. Barry Allen.

He said Sitka police will continue to follow up on any leads that come in, and the Sitka Police Department still considers this an active case.


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