With Mary Anne Alexie missing in Anchorage for more than a month, volunteers and Alexie's family held a candlelight vigil in Spenard on Tuesday hoping to bring more attention to her case.
The vigil, at the Holiday Inn Express on Spenard Road, also came on Alexie's 34th birthday. The Fairbanks resident and mother of four came to Anchorage in October to study to be a medical assistant, said her sister, Josephine Guynes. Alexie didn't show up Oct. 9 for classes at Career Academy and vanished after a mysterious phone call Oct. 10, police said.
Alexie called a friend in Fairbanks, who said she sounded disoriented and mentioned being lost somewhere in Spenard, police said. It's the last time anyone reported hearing from Alexie, who normally kept close contact with her family, said Guynes, who flew to Anchorage with her mother, Anna, from their home in Nikolai.
"It's very stressful," Guynes said. "We've never had to go through anything like this. It's very hard. We live all the way in the village, and then coming out here, it's a lot different."
Between 40 and 50 people showed up to light candles and pray for Alexie at the vigil Tuesday night. Before disbanding, the group sang "Happy Birthday To You" for Alexie and handed out fliers with her picture. Many of those in attendance were related to Alexie and from several different villages, said Laura Crane, an aunt from Sleetmute.
"She's in God's hands right now, wherever she is," Crane told the group. "Keep it in your heart, we all love each other, no matter what we do, right or wrong."
Alexie wanted to educate herself, get a good job and create a better life for herself and her children, said Guynes, her sister. She didn't drink and always kept in touch with her family through frequent phone calls, text messages and on Facebook, Guynes said. After that final phone call, all communication dropped off, she said.
"Somebody has to know something, somewhere," Guynes said. "Everyone has somebody that they love, and I just ask people to think about their person that they love. It's just extremely hard. But someone knows something."
Police are interviewing people Alexie might have contacted in Anchorage, but the investigators are not sharing much information, Guynes said.
Guynes said villagers in Nikolai, where much of her family still lives, held a cake walk to raise money for the family's trip to Anchorage, and the Kuskokwim Corp. donated money to pay for their airfare to Anchorage and $500 for a reward seeking information in the missing person case.
A group called Project Angel Eyes is also distributing information and helping with logistics, including organizing volunteers, some of whom have offered to cook meals for the family while they are in Anchorage, Guynes said. The Holiday Inn Express donated a hotel room for four nights so the Alexie family had a place to stay, said Peggy Giles with Project Angel Eyes.
The newly founded group is following the family's lead on how they want to look for Alexie, and so far the idea is to get as much information out to the public as possible, Giles said.
"I don't know how long they're going to want to stay and search, but we'll be here for them," Giles said.
More information and digital files of missing person posters for Alexie can be found on Facebook a page for Project Angel Eyes and a page called "Help Find Mary Anne Alexie."
Police describe Alexie as 4 feet, 11 inches tall and 120 pounds. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call police at 786-8900.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE