Two years after Jael Hamblen’s disappearance, her mother seeks answers
During the two years since her daughter disappeared, closure is still out of reach for Colleen Vague.
“As time goes on, it does not get easier,” she said. “It just changes focus.”
Her daughter, Jael Hamblen, was last seen at her South Anchorage apartment on Oct. 11, 2014. Twenty years old at the time, she left behind a 7-month-old son, Joel, who is now in Vague’s care.
“There’s a little boy who deserves to know what happened to his mom,” said Vague, who urged people with information to contact police. “You’re equally culpable if you have information that could find or resolve this and have not chosen to come forward.”
Vague said she has no complaints about how the Anchorage Police Department has handled the case. However, APD does not have a missing persons unit. Instead, detectives within the homicide division handle those cases. With 28 homicides so far this year in Anchorage, Vague senses the department’s resources are stretched thin.
“With all the craziness that has been going on, that has sort of taken a priority, I believe, because they’re more timely and urgent,” Vague acknowledged.
When asked about the case, APD detective Slawomir Markiewicz said there are no leads or suspects.
“We don’t have the answers for the family and for [Jael’s] loved ones we’d like to have,” Markiewicz said.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz recently announced a plan to significantly boost the number of APD employees, an effort that first began about one year ago when he appointed Chris Tolley as the new chief of police.
“As the department ranks grow, we hope that the detectives’ ranks will grow as well,” Markiewicz said.
Vague said Hamblen, who was adopted, suffered from symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, like poor decision-making. She said when Hamblen was 17, she was seduced by a woman in her early 30s, who later became her roommate. Vague said that woman might be involved in the disappearance.
“When my daughter had the baby and he was just a couple months old, she wanted to move out,” Vague said, explaining that Hamblen planned to move in with her. “This woman threatened to kill her, and said, ‘[If] you ever leave, I’m going to kill you and take the baby.’”
Vague said when she first reported the woman as a sexual predator, she was “somewhat dismissed.”
“Whether it’s domestic violence [or] sexual predators, women are just as capable as men and we need to recognize that,” Vague said.
KTVA was unable to reach the woman to give her a chance to defend herself, and as she is not listed by APD as a suspect, will not publicly disclose her name.
Vague said that while it sounds strange, she hopes her daughter is being held against her will.
“I know that’s probably foolish to a lot of people, and I have had many friends who have said, ‘You just need to have a memorial service and move on.’ That feels like I’m giving up,” Vague explained.
If remains are found, Vague plans to move to Washington state with Joel to be closer to family. Otherwise, she will continue searching for her daughter.
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