A photo of Lori Dee Wilson dating back to shortly before her disappearance in March 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Wilson family)

A photo of Lori Dee Wilson dating back to shortly before her disappearance in March 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Wilson family)

Missing mother’s family still holds out hope she will be found

  • By LIZ KELLAR
  • Sunday, May 14, 2017 5:01pm
  • News

Marilyn Wilson struggles to hold back her emotions at the thought of Mother’s Day without hearing from her daughter.

It’s been more than a year since Lori Dee Wilson walked away from a Juneau drug treatment center and vanished from public view. There has been no word, not even a phone call.

“We haven’t lost hope,” Marilyn said by phone Thursday. “We keep hoping she’ll be found or chooses to get treatment. You don’t just disappear and no one hears from you. She has never not contacted her kids for this length of time. Not a year, not like that.”

It is particularly puzzling to her family that Lori Dee has not reached out to her three boys in the last 14 months, despite her strong attachment to them.

On March 16, 2016, before she headed to rehab, Lori Dee wrote a letter to her sons.

“Mamma is in a safe place right now far away,” she wrote. “I will be back when they say I am good and all better … Just a little while longer and we will be back with each other.”

Lori Dee reassured her sons she would write every chance she got and asked them to stay strong, ending her letter in all caps and drawn hearts, “Big hugs & kisses, always, Mom.”

Eight days later, she reportedly was seen jumping out of a ground-floor window at the drug treatment center. No one has seen her since, despite numerous appeals to the public for information and lengthy searches by her family.

The Wilsons reported Lori Dee missing to the Juneau Police Department on April 4, 2016; since then, family members, JPD officers, and others have looked all over Juneau and even Anchorage for her. Her family has spent nearly $2,000 to date to put a recurring ad in the Empire and has been in town as recently as January, handing out fliers.

Juneau does not get many true missing persons, said Lt. David Campbell. What is more common is juvenile runaways, which typically are short-term, he said.

Campbell estimated Juneau sees one or two every couple of years, adding that to have two missing in one year — Lori Dee Wilson and Christopher Orcutt, missing since August 2016 after leaving a downtown party — was unusual.

There has been very little information to go on for either Orcutt or Lori Dee, said Lt. Kris Sell.

Sell urged anyone with information regarding Lori Dee to contact the police department at 586-0600 or the Juneau Crime Line at http://juneaucrimeline.com, which she stressed is “completely anonymous.”

“Even an anonymous tip, anything would be great,” Sell added. “If anyone (with information) has any sympathy for the family, please come forward.”

‘No one’s mad. Just call, or come home’

Lori Dee had struggled with drug addiction for a while, but had always bounced back in the past, her mother said.

“She would be gone for days at a time, leaving the kids with a sitter,” Marilyn said, adding she asked for custody.

At Christmas in 2015, Marilyn said, Lori Dee looked homeless and said she had been living in her car.

“I could see she was trying, but she just slid back into” using drugs, Marilyn said.

By March, Lori Dee was “acting paranoid,” her mother said. “She thought somebody wanted to kill her.”

Lori Dee has undergone an annual surgery for her throat after she accidentally swallowed lye as a child, and needed to be clean for that, explained her sister, Gwen Larson. She was committed for a short period of time for mandated psychiatric help and treatment for heroin abuse. Then, once Lori Dee got through detox, she agreed to go into a 30-day treatment program in Juneau, which the family encouraged because it was a place where no one knew her, Larson said.

“I think she was only there for a day,” she said. “I talked to her that morning.”

Lori Dee wanted her sister to visit, Larson said, adding, “That was the last conversation I had with her.”

Larson thinks Lori Dee went out the window later that same day, even though she was there of her own volition.

She remains puzzled, and frustrated, by her sister’s disappearance.

“I think she’s (still) out there,” Larson said. “I think she’s just stuck in the drug world.”

Before this, Larson said, the longest she had gone without talking to her sister was two weeks.

“I’m her only sibling,” she said. “If something was wrong, she would come to me. The last time she left treatment, she showed up on my door.”

There have been tips and photos and even video, but none of those women were Lori Dee, Larson said. The family has gotten calls placing Lori Dee in Sitka, in Palmer, in Wasilla, in Anchorage.

“Figuring out what’s what is the hardest part,” she said.

Larson says she has a gut feeling that something is wrong with Lori Dee, something that is preventing her from making contact.

“We love her and miss her, we really want her to come home,” Larson said. “No one’s mad. Just call, or come home.”

“If she’s OK, we’ll drop it,” she continued. “We just want to know. Her oldest son asked me, ‘Is Mom still alive?’ All we can tell the kids is she’s just mixed up.”

Marilyn Wilson wrote her own letter to her child, hoping against hope that somehow, Lori Dee will see it on this important day.

“To my sweet daughter, Happy Mother’s Day — wherever you are,” she wrote. “I want you to know you are loved and missed by your family.”

In the letter, Marilyn offers up news of Lori Dee’s three boys and events in the family.

“I read (the) letter you wrote last year to the boys, whenever they are sad and missing you — it’s a beautiful letter,” she added. “We pray for you every day, at every meal.”


• Liz Kellar can be reached at 523-2246 or liz.kellar@juneauempire.com.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

t
Police calls for Saturday, July 2, 2022

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Rockets’ red glare illuminates the night sky and spectators during the City and Borough of Juneau’s fireworks display on July 3, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Rockets’ red glare illuminates the night sky and spectators during the City and Borough of Juneau’s fireworks display on July 3, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
What you need to know for this fourth of July

Check out the scheduled events here.

Larisa Bishop Boros
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a male silver-haired bat captured in Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 2010. A bat found in Douglas tested positive for rabies, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced.
Bat found in Douglas tests positive for rabies

No report of rabies exposure to people, according to Department of Fish and Game.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, July 1, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A rally planned to include Trump is scheduled to happen in Anchorage on July 9.  (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey File)
Trump to rally for Palin, Dunleavy, Tshibaka in Anchorage

Former President Donald Trump plans to attend a rally in Alaska next week.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, June 30, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Courtesy Photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Dunleavy signs budget

PFD of about $3,200, $400 million in vetoes to Legislature-approved items among declared highlights

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read