The plea was simple: Please come forward if you know anything about the August 2015 disappearance of Duluth resident Sheila St. Clair.
"We all miss my sister, especially her kids and her grandkids. The whole family just wants to know. It's hard for me to talk to anybody about this or even move on," St. Clair's sister Raven Mitchell said through her tears at a vigil on Monday. "It's harder every time - one more year of not knowing what to do or where to look or who to talk to. My mom and my family just want my sister to have some peace so please if anybody knows, please help us."
"We will continue to be engaged, to do everything we can to bring Sheila home and get some closure for you and your family," Tusken told Mitchell.
St. Clair's friends and family have gathered every September to ask the public for answers since she went missing. Marking the third anniversary of her disappearance with a vigil in Central Hillside Park on Monday, they said they're hoping this will be the year they learn what happened.
St. Clair, who was 48 at the time, had announced plans to travel to the White Earth Reservation in western Minnesota, but never arrived, and family members haven't seen or heard from her since. She was last seen Aug. 15, 2015 in Duluth and she was reported missing at the beginning of September. Duluth police called St. Clair's disappearance "extremely suspect" and a $1,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible. People can also remain anonymous when giving information about St. Clair to the Duluth Police Department.
Law enforcement has followed up on several leads over the last three years, none of which led to finding St. Clair's whereabouts. Police have "points of interest" in their search, and part of that was identifying the timeline establishing when she was last seen. Her disappearance remains an open investigation, Tusken said.
"We meet here, unfortunately, every year to put out a message that we would like to get any and all information if people have it about Sheila and her whereabouts," Tusken said at the vigil.
The case's lead investigator keeps a photo of St. Clair on his desk and the Violent Crimes Unit works on the case whenever it receives new information, police Lt. Dan Chicos said. Tusken asked that anyone with information reach out to the Duluth Police Department to bring St. Clair home for her family.
"Remember a lot of times when we're doing investigations ... although the information you have may not seem of significance, that oftentimes, it's part of a puzzle that may help us solve it," Tusken said.
They hold the annual vigil to keep St. Clair in the public eye, said Shawn Carr of Idle No More, a Native American advocacy group whose issues include missing and murdered indigenous women.
"Hopefully every year that we do this, somebody will think of something, no matter how small it is, and perhaps come forward," Carr said.
He said he thinks about St. Clair a lot and described her as "a nice lady, soft spoken, always polite." He said the community is supporting the family with whatever they need.
"You don't give up hope," Carr said, concluding, "I hope this year, this shakes something loose and there can be some closure for the family and the community."