ALASKA - The bold headline running across the top of an Alaska State Trooper missing person bulletin reads “Endangered Adult.” Beneath, the name Loy Suthammavong is prominently placed in large type. Then a photograph of a 30-year-old man with black hair, a high forehead, a slight mustache and somber expression.
He was last seen in Houston on December 2, 2011. Three days later the Anchorage Fire Department responded to a car fire and found Suthammovong’s car in flames – AFD declared it arson.
Tuesday night, March 20, an unidentified body was found off of Eklutna Lake Road. Thursday the human remains were identified – they belonged to Loy Suthammavong.
Suthammavong’s homicide case is not closed, but his missing persons case is solved, unlike many others in Alaska.
Three days ago, he would have joined a John Doe, whose remains were found off Third Avenue in 2001, and “Eklutna Annie,” a young woman believed to be in her late teens to early 20s with dirty brown hair that fell to the middle of her back. She fell victim to serial killer Robert Hansen and was discovered in 1980, but was never identified.
According to Alaska State Trooper Lieutenant Craig Allen, in 2011 2,071 Alaska residents were reported missing. A large percentage of those reported cases are runaway minors.
The number, 2,071, is fairly representative of Alaska’s average annual missing persons numbers, said Allen. On the Alaska State Troopers Missing Persons Bulletin website, there are 70-plus active investigations dating back as far as the early 1970s, but according to troopers those don’t include all of the state’s missing people.
“It all depends on circumstances.”
Brown-eyed Amy Fandel has blonde wavy hair and a gap-toothed smile in a photo on a flyer. She was 8 years old when she and her 13-year-old brother, Scott C. Fandel, went missing from their Sterling cabin home.
The last time their mother saw them was September 5, 1978. Her daughter was sporting a sweater, blue vest and stripped jeans. Scott Fandel wore a striped shirt and blue jeans.
That night was nothing out of the ordinary. The duo had accompanied mother Margaret Fandel and aunt Cathy Schonfelder to dinner at the bar and restaurant Good Time Charlie’s. At approximately 10 p.m., they were dropped off at home. Their mother and aunt returned to the bar.
The cabin the kids returned to didn’t have a lock on the front door and was in a heavily wooded area.
After being dropped off they visited with the neighbor kids. At 11:45 p.m. another passing neighbor said lights were on in their cabin.
Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., the children’s mom and aunt returned from the bar and found a boiling pot of water, a macaroni package and an open can of tomatoes on the counter. To Margaret Fandel this was normal. She assumed her son had fallen asleep while cooking up his favorite bedtime snack.
The next morning when Margaret Fandel left for work her kids weren’t there. This too seemed normal. All that changed when she attempted to call her daughter at school. School officials informed her neither child had made it to class that day.
Bullet shell casings were later found near the cabin. Authorities were never able to determine if they were related to the case. For many years Amy Fandel’s father was a person of interest in the case. Many theories regarding his involvement were speculated upon. There was never evidence to support the supposition.
Today the siblings would be in their late 40s. An online web page has computer-generated photos of what both children may now look like. Scott Fandel has brown hair, a straight smile, blue eyes and the face of man. His sister’s smile has straightened out. She no longer looks like the doe-eyed girl she was the last time her family saw her.
Their cases are considered a non-family abduction.
Some years later their childhood home burned down, leaving the lost children with no place to return to.
Megan Siobhan Emerick left her Seward dormitory residence on foot to do laundry in July of 1973. She was 17 years old and living at the Seward Skill Center. Her roommate searched for her for three days before reporting her missing.
The young woman had straight brown hair, protruding front teeth and freckles across her nose. She left her personal belongings and identification behind.
A typical Alaska girl and a product of Delta Junction, she enjoyed fishing and hunting with her family on the Yukon River. She found pleasure in rock music, horses and motorcycles.
Authorities speculated that the teenage girl was a victim of Robert Hansen. In 1984 Hansen claimed he committed 17 murders and 30 rapes. Only 12 of his victims’ bodies were ever recovered.
The convicted serial murder claimed to be in Seward at the time of her disappearance, but denied any involvement.
In 1996 Megan Emerick’s mother went to the grave not knowing the fate of her missing daughter.
Megan’s missing persons case is still open and active.
“ENDANGERED MISSING PERSON” runs across the top of a more recent flyer.
In the middle of June 2009, John Melvin Wipert was working as a caretaker at Ptarmigan Lake Lodge in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park when he disappeared with two of the lodge’s horses. He was unfamiliar with the area and is suspected to have been taking the horses to Beaver Creek.
Urban Rahoi, who hired Wipert, had returned to the lodge in the first weeks of July to drop off groceries, and found the door off the hinges, a horse starving and dehydrated in the stable and rotting bacon on the counter.
Rahoi found a note reading “Gone to check out the cabin. Back tomorrow night,” but the closest cabin was more than a day’s ride away.
Wipert remains yet another unsolved Alaska mystery.
Emerick, the Fandel children and Wipert are all just faces on flyers now. They circulate on the internet and local business bulletin boards with all the others who have vanished into the Last Frontier. All three are considered active investigations, and won’t go cold anytime soon. “Those are going to remain active, as far as being a missing person, until we are able to determine that that person has been found – dead or alive,” said Lieutenant Allen.
These cases are open and active, but not actively being investigated. Authorities are still taking tips.
Other resolutions are available in missing persons cases. A family can hold a presumptive death hearing in court, if circumstances can support a death certificate. The families of victims lost at sea and lost hikers often correctly assume that their loved one is dead. Alaska’s rugged terrain and immense size are key players in the state’s disappearance cases.
“We’ve got vast terrain and geography,” said Allen. “We don’t always have certainty about where to begin looking for a person. Oftentimes when persons are located, it’s by accident.”
That’s exactly what led to Loy Suthammavong, whose remains were found by a passing snow-shoer in Eklutna.
Alaska State Troopers and other law enforcement have no guidelines on how long a missing persons case will stay active before going cold. “It all depends on circumstances,” Allen said.
Emerick and the Fandel children are completely different cases than Wipert’s, despite all being listed as missing. Wipert is just that – missing – Emerick and the Fandel children are abductions.
There is a fine line.
“Abducted is where we’ve got something that leads us to believe that the person is missing in circumstances beyond their control,” said Allen.
Still, the 2,071 reported cases in 2011 and 70-plus active bulletins don’t include everybody who has vanished.
“Desperately seeking missing son.”
That’s the recent plea of a mother in a local Craigslist ad. She is asking anyone who has been in contact with her son, Paul Borko, to get a message to him.
She is worried and only wants to know that her son is okay. She wrote she needs to hear from him. Emails to Borko's mother from KTVA went unreturned.
His story isn’t reported, but it is active and open. For now Borko is another man who seems to have gotten lost in the Last Frontier.
Contact KTVA.com reporter Megan Edge at email@example.com.