MISSOULA – The search for Jermain Charlo continues as friends and family gathered to honor her 24th birthday Tuesday.
But what should be a celebration was instead a time of frustration as family and friends continue to search for answers. They gathered to reflect on the life of their missing loved one on her first birthday since she disappeared in June 2018.
Charlo’s loved ones gathered underneath a billboard that serves as a large reminder to those who drive by that she is still missing. There were also messages too — a reminder for her and themselves that they will not give up hope.
“I can’t live thinking that she’s in a ditch or she’s in body pieces. I have to live the hope that she’s alive and whatever circumstances she is going through whatever is holding her back from being able to come back home,” Charlo’s aunt Valenda Morigeau said. “That when she comes back we can help her get through that. We have to stay positive.”
The investigation has been just as active as it was since Charlo, who is Native American, went missing roughly 10 months ago when she was last seen near the Orange Street Food Farm in Missoula.
The lead detective on the case — Guy Baker of the Missoula Police Department — told MTN News authorities he continues to follow leads and conduct interviews.
He added there have been several persons of interests in the case, but they still are unsure what happened to Charlo. That lack of answers is what’s most frustrating for family members.
It’s been hard just because [of] the lack of credible sightings — credible evidence. In a sense, it’s brought the family together. In another sense, it’s also been deeply disturbing. We haven’t really heard any evidence or any credible sources related to her. It’s like she just vanished,” said Charlo’s grandfather David Velarde.
As the family struggles to hold onto hope with limited details into her investigation, they surround themselves with what they do know — Charlo’s love for life and her incredible talent as an artist.
“Jermain is very fun, she’s spontaneous, she loves to be outdoors, she loved hiking, she loved to draw, she could knit like nobody’s business. She cared about the planet so she would save plastic bags and knit them to save the environment,” Morigeau said. “She loved to be outdoors and she loved to take her boys fishing.”
It’s those memories that give Charlo’s friends and family hope she’ll come home.
Anyone with information about Charlo’s disappearance or whereabouts is asked to call Baker at (406) 552-6284.
-Reported by Kent Luetzen/MTN News