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Rural Alaska

More than a week into search for Nome woman, police say little evidence has been found

  • Author: Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM News
  • Updated: September 9
  • Published September 9

Florence Okpealuk of Nome. (Photo courtesy Nome Police Department)

This article originally appeared at KNOM.org and is republished here with permission.

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NOME -- Nome residents turned out in large numbers Saturday to search for a missing woman, but despite their efforts, Florence Okpealuk has not been found.

Nome Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Department Chief Jim West Jr. reports he had the more than 100 volunteers, along with the search and rescue team, form a line, each standing 3 to 6 feet apart, to comb the area where Okpealuk, 33, was last reported seen.

“We started at the west side of the NJUS treatment lagoon and we had volunteers cover two to two and a half miles west, just past the Dredge 6 area,” West said Tuesday.

The group searched from the tideline on West Beach up to the road behind Dredge 6 for Okpealuk. “We did find four-wheeler tracks and footprints in odd places,” West said.

He said Nome police gathered potential evidence but he didn’t share specifics.

Okpealuk has been missing for over a week, and local law enforcement has not yet made the call to end the search. But temperatures have dipped into the 30s and Nome has seen rain, which West said isn’t a good sign.

“With the cold temperatures and she didn’t have proper gear to sustain the temperatures outside at night, there’s a possibility hypothermia set in. She could have wandered off anywhere, unless she was taken somewhere else or picked up.”

Currently Nome Search and Rescue is pulling in more resources. A local search dog helped the efforts on Saturday, and West said he is working to get additional search dogs out of Anchorage.

Okpealuk was last seen on Aug. 30, and Nome police were notified on Aug. 31. Anyone with any information regarding Okpealuk’s disappearance is encouraged to contact Nome police at 907-443-5262.

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