Relatives and friends of a 20-year-old La Crescenta woman who disappeared in January reached out to the public for information Tuesday and announced a $250,000 reward for tips that help locate her.
Elaine Park was last seen around 6 a.m. Jan. 28 when she left the home of her on-again, off-again boyfriend in Calabasas. On March 2, Park’s 2015 Honda Civic was found on Pacific Coast Highway near Corral Canyon in the Malibu area, with the keys in the ignition and her belongings still inside, including a phone, computer and cash, according to her family.
“Until now, we have not directly reached out to the public for support,” Park’s mother, Susan, told reporters, calling her daughter’s disappearance an “unimaginable” mystery.
“How can someone just disappear without a trace?” she asked.
Glendale police said earlier this year they questioned Park’s boyfriend, who was “completely cooperative.”
Police have mounted “exhaustive searches” using bloodhounds, cadaver dogs, drones, helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, divers and search-and-rescue teams that have scoured the area and ocean near Park’s car as well as the adjacent mountains, but have found no trace of the young woman, Glendale police Sgt. Robert William said.
Detectives have also followed up on all of the information and tips that have come in, William said.
“None of those have led to any type of evidence to a crime,” he said, adding that no evidence has been found to suggest that Park took her own life.
With the case going cold, Park’s family hired a private investigator, who told reporters Tuesday that new leads have been developed that suggest foul play and that have “taken the case back to very active status.”
“As we’ve cast a wide net, we’ve conducted a number of searches both in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Angeles National Forest,” investigator Jayden Brant said. “Unfortunately at this time, again, we are appealing to the public to fill in some of the gaps on the information that we do have. But this is very much an active investigation.”
William said the case indeed remains open.
“We don’t close a missing person investigation until the person is found one way or another,” he said, but added that it’s “not entirely accurate that we are following up on new leads.”
He said what Brant characterizes as new leads could more accurately be described “as speculations and not so much as leads.”
In any case, detectives who have been working with Brant have followed up on all information, William said.
“It is a very frustrating case and very puzzling to us,” he said.
The family is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to Park, but it will only be on the table until Sept. 15, a restriction imposed by the unnamed donors who are offering the money.
“Elaine’s 21st birthday is Sept. 24,” Susan Park said. “I am pleading for the public’s help. All we want to do is to find Elaine, nothing else.”
Park is Korean-American, 5-foot-6 and about 125 pounds, with brown eyes and long brown hair with blonde tips. She often wears heavy makeup ans has a cow skull tattoo on her upper left arm and another tattoo on her lower left arm.
The family asked anyone with information to call a tip line at (800) 551- 3080, or visit the website www.elainepark.tips.
–City News Service