Alaska News

Another community search, but still no word about what happened to Nome woman missing for 2 weeks

The latest in a series of searches that started two weeks ago found no sign of a Nome woman missing since late August.

Florence Okpealuk, 33, was reported missing by family members on Aug. 31.

Organized searches began last weekend, but community members started independently looking for Okpealuk days before that. Some locals have expressed concern that it took too long to organize a full, community-wide search, which didn’t occur until Sept. 5, KNOM has reported.

Okpealuk was last seen in an area near town called West Beach coming out of a tent, according to an Alaska State Troopers bulletin that says her clothing description and direction of travel were both unknown. She left a jacket and shoes outside the tent.

About 40 people spent more than three hours combing heavy brush Saturday, according to an FBI spokeswoman. The community held a prayer vigil to show support for the Okpealuk family at Hansen’s Park on Saturday evening.

The Nome Police Department announced Sunday that they, together with Alaska State Troopers and the FBI, were hoping to locate the driver of a truck that was in the vicinity of the port between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Aug. 30. The driver was located, authorities said Sunday afternoon.

The search Saturday focused on West Beach and started at the port, according to FBI spokeswoman Chloe Martin said.

There are six FBI representatives in Nome to help with the police investigation. The agency routinely provides assistance to law enforcement to provide additional staffing and specialized resources, Martin said. In this case, Nome police requested help and FBI personnel arrived Friday after providing assistance remotely from Anchorage since the beginning of the case.

Okpealuk is 5 foot 2 inches tall, has dark brown hair, and weighs around 130 pounds.

The ongoing investigation into her disappearance is being conducted by the Nome Police Department with assistance from the FBI Anchorage Field Office, the Alaska State Troopers, the Nome Volunteer Fire Department Search and Rescue Team, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Anyone with information about Okpealuk’s disappearance can call the Nome Police Department at 907-443-5262. Callers can remain anonymous.

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