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02-09-2008, 04:15 PM #1Former Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
- Puget Sound area, WA
WI - Sara Bushland, 15, Spooner, 3 April 1996
Missing Since: April 3, 1996 from Spooner, Wisconsin
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: August 15, 1980
Age: 15 years old
Height and Weight: 5'0, 104 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue/gray/green eyes. Bushland has moles on the left side of her neck and above her upper lip. She has a slender build. Bushland's nickname is Bug. Some agencies may spell her first name "Sarah."
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Four sterling silver rings, including a Spooner High School class ring.
Details of Disappearance
Bushland was last seen exiting her school bus at the end of the driveway of her family's residence on April 3, 1996 in Spooner, Wisconsin. She has never been heard from again.
Bushland's case was classified as that of an Endangered Runaway by law enforcement following her disappearance. It was later reclassified as Endangered Missing, then changed back to Endangered Runaway. Her case remains open and unsolved. Her father and stepmother believe she is deceased.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Washburn County Sheriff's Office
06-22-2008, 11:38 AM #2Former member
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
Sara Bushland was last seen on April 3, 1996, in Spooner, Wis.
She was 18 years old when she was last seen.
Bushland has blonde hair, blue eyes and moles on the left side of her neck and above her upper lip.
She was born Aug. 15, 1980.
The image shown on the right is what Bushland might look like now at age 25.
If you have any information on Bushland's whereabouts, please call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) THE-LOST.
video at link
06-22-2008, 11:39 AM #3Former member
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
Urgency goes missing in missing-persons cases
Attention given to cases contrasts with that for Levy, relatives say
By MARK JOHNSON and JAMES H. BURNETT III
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: July 20, 2001
Five years have passed since Michael Bushland's daughter, Sara, 15, stepped off a school bus near her mother's home in Spooner and vanished.
Missing-person reports recorded in the FBI National Crime Information Center. The number does not account for cases that were closed. No breakdowns are available for adults vs. children.
2001: 428,228 (through June 30)
1997: 980,712 (a record)
Source: Associated Press
The worst part is the not
- Dawn Bushland,
stepmother of missing girl
But Sara Bushland dropped from sight in a way that Washington intern Chandra Levy did not. Bushland's blond, blue-eyed visage didn't land on front pages or television screens coast to coast. Law enforcement at first considered her a runaway. She was missing, but so was the sense of urgency about her case.
"Of course, we contacted 'America's Most Wanted,' " but the case "is too cold," says Dawn Bushland, Michael Bushland's wife and the girl's stepmother. "There's not enough pizzazz."
Meanwhile, every Father's Day, Michael Bushland prays that his daughter will call.
Missing-persons cases are surprisingly common. Cases such as that of Levy's are much rarer.
This year in Milwaukee, about 2,000 children and adults have been reported missing, and all but 200 or so of those cases have been resolved, police say.
"There are several people reported each day. Most of them are children, and most are found within hours," says Lt. Daniel Ruzinski, a veteran sensitive-crimes detective. "The majority of them, probably 75 percent, are found within a day."
An average of 700 to 800 children are reported missing each month in Wisconsin, state records show.
The majority of those reported missing are found or return home on their own within hours or days, says Randy Romanski, a spokesman and policy analyst in Attorney General Jim Doyle's office.
"On average, about 95 percent of children reported missing are located" in less than two days, he says. "Typically they would be runaways, children told to leave the home - say, during an argument - and then came back or were located. However, there are some that are longer-term cases or more serious."
The children's edge
In this respect, cases such as Bushland's are usually more promising than those such as Levy's. Children are more likely than adults to be reported as missing very quickly. Fewer people report adult friends and relatives as missing, even after extended absences, Ruzinski says.
"Everybody's got a relative you haven't seen for a couple of months, right? Do you report them missing?" he says. "It's not unusual not to hear from cousin so-and-so for two or three months at a time, and all of a sudden he'll give you a call. So I think it's basically because adults can come and go as they please, where children, their parents are responsible for them."
Once adults are reported missing, some factors make them easier to track down. An adult's employment records, travel arrangements and credit cards leave a paper trail.
Still, there are resources for missing children that don't exist for missing adults.
Most government and private missing-persons tracking organizations concentrate on children, Romanski says. In Wisconsin, Doyle's office oversees the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children, a conduit organization for coordinating statewide search efforts.
In the Bushland case, a mix-up kept her name and photo off the national database of missing and exploited children about three years. Fliers and posters were distributed locally, but they produced few leads.
Dawn Bushland wishes she and others had contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children immediately, instead of assuming that law enforcement would do so.
"Everyone failed Sara, and I include myself," she said.
It has been hard for her to watch the relentless focus on the Levy case in Washington. "America's Most Wanted" wasn't the only television show she tried. There were calls and e-mails to Sally Jessy Raphael, Montel Williams and Maury Povich, without success.
In Levy's case, the coverage has been so intense that there were even stories about the one network, CBS, that wasn't reporting the case.
"Makes me sick," Dawn Bushland says of the attention on Levy and U.S. Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), who has admitted having an affair with the intern. "Sara didn't have an affair with a congressman. Mike and I are nobodies."
Planned a memorial
A year ago, Michael Bushland was thinking about holding a memorial service for his daughter, whose 21st birthday would be Aug. 15.
"He believes, at least if he felt he needed to talk with Sara, he could go to the cemetery," Dawn Bushland says. "I said, 'You need to have a true confirmation.' The worst part is the not knowing."
They held off on the memorial service.
Other families of missing children face a different kind of uncertainty.
Gail Boyden is the grandmother of Shawna Elizabeth Nowaczyk, 5, who went missing from her Eagle home in October. Boyden says she believes Shawna is with her mother, possibly in Guatemala.
"She's got family she knows" in Guatemala, Boyden says. "We know she took American Airlines from O'Hare."
Shawna's parents, Joseph and Mauren Nowaczyk, were going through a divorce when the mother and daughter disappeared, Boyden says. Authorities have been able to do little to locate Shawna, and if she is with her mother in Guatemala, Boyden believes she will be tough to bring home.
"You can't touch them down there," she says.
Boyden says the girl's disappearance has been hard on Joseph Nowaczyk, even though he has reason to believe that his daughter is still alive.
"It's been terrible on him," she says. "It seems the longer it goes on, the more difficult it gets."
She has no difficulty with the publicity surrounding Levy. She feels there is a different irony in her granddaughter's case.
"They made a big deal about Elian Gonzalez," she says. "He wasn't even a citizen of the U.S. Here we have a citizen of the U.S., and they won't do a damn thing."
Perhaps the closest Wisconsin has come to the media frenzy of the Levy case was the reaction to the disappearance of Laurie Depies, 20, in August 1992 from a parking lot outside her boyfriend's apartment in Menasha. She apparently set a soft-drink cup on her car while she locked it, then disappeared.
"There was a great amount of attention. It was quite unbelievable," says her father, Mark Depies, 56. "There were about 400,000 posters put out with her picture. People came back and said, 'I saw Laurie's picture at a gas station in Canada.' "
Within 12 hours or so of the disappearance, Mark Depies and his ex-wife saw the first television cameras covering the case.
Friends and relatives manned a search center for Laurie Depies in a Menasha office building. Psychics approached the family, which heard from about 20 in all. By the fall, the family had appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to talk about the case.
Sense of urgency waned
But the urgent hope felt early in the case began to drain as time went on. The first psychics had said things such as "Hurry, hurry. She's still alive. They're hurting her," Mark Depies recalls. After six weeks, the messages from psychics revolved around where police could find her body.
The search center, which had been manned 24 hours a day for a while, began using an answering machine. It closed around Christmas in 1992, passing all its information on to police.
"The media hung with us for a long time," Mark Depies says.
There were stories at the one-year anniversary. More stories at two years.
"The fifth anniversary, they just mentioned," he says.
He found dealing with the media difficult. Even now, talking about his daughter brings back pain. He says his heart goes out to Levy's family and other families of missing persons.
Mark Depies says he almost prefers not to know what happened to his daughter "because I'm afraid of what the answer is." Still, part of him can't surrender the last slim hope.
He says he has about a 2% hope that she is still alive. "My mind says that she's no longer with us, but you always have a little hope," he says.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 21, 2001.
06-30-2008, 03:34 PM #4Registered User
- Join Date
- May 2005
Spooner Wi is about 12 miles from our cabin & I normally keep pretty close tabs on things in our area & I never have heard anything about her being missing. Could of been in the local paper............but not many NEWS channels for that area most are from the Twin Cities area. .
08-04-2011, 06:49 AM #5
Updated: 11:18 PM Aug 3, 2011
Searching for Sara; Family and state using new ways to crack cold case
The family of a woman who disappeared more than 15-years ago is using facebook to get her picture out, in hopes of getting some answers.
Posted: 10:37 PM Aug 3, 2011
Reporter: Chris Baylor
Email Address: email@example.com
"Everyday is a struggle; the biggest one would be just not getting any answers and not having closure in any of it. We don't know if she ran away or if she was abducted and not enough people are talking to let us know what really happened," says Lesley Small, Sara’s older sister.
09-28-2011, 07:22 PM #6
Curious Connection tween Cases
I saw a post in 2009 that brought up an elderly man arrested in Montesano Cty WA. The post was mentioned RE Lindsay Baum disappearance. It is interesting that I have recently learned that same man was in WI when Sara Bushland went missing. That man is also due in Court in WI in Nov for charges of sexual assault against a child. This man currenty still lives in WA. WI will likely investigate him once he is back here, but he probably should be considered in Lindsay's case as well. Perhaps his mug shot should be shown around the pool.
03-09-2012, 08:08 PM #7
Volunteers and the family of Sara have a website concerning her disappearance:
Find Sara Bushland
It looks like it's regularly updated, and includes news articles as well....Always remembering the missing...
03-18-2012, 08:18 PM #8
Spending many hours trying to piece together Sara's life up to 3:30, Wed. April 3,1996. LE has released zero info and do not return calls when I have info to give. The best info gathered has been from Sara's peers, who are now in their 30's. Mom "will not go public" and although appreciates what the volunteers are doing to keep Sara's story in the news, said talking about Sara is a dishonor to her and her trust. Cannot tell if she thinks Sara is living elsewhere. Sara's sister has been totally on board and makes those calls only a relative can. What I have learned is that Sara has had horrid occurrences in short 15 years,but regardless this girl did not deserve to have all her chances taken from her. We have looked at who could have been angry enough at Sara to harm her, intentionally or accidentally--there were at least 4 scenarios possible by individuals she knew, but we cannot eliminate stranger contributions in at least 2 scenarios. LE would not tell when the missing person report was first filed, but this week I learned Sara was last seen Wednesday April 3rd, but report was not filed with sheriff until Friday, April 5. Family's story is LE wouldn't take the report until 48 hours had passed. LE says they were never contacted until mother and lawyer showed up that Friday. I truly do need advice on how to better advocate on Sara's behalf. How can I locate more experienced advisers. Tell me what info I can provide to encourage the groups interest in helping to wade through all the possibilities. Thank you
03-22-2012, 12:30 AM #9
I'm not very experienced with Websleuths... but I will try to find who can help you... If my reply doesn't help you, I'll send out a few messages. Take care... We want to help....Always remembering the missing...
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03-25-2012, 01:43 AM #10
MissKizzy, just had a thought: Have you or Sara's sister tried contacting local lawmakers/representatives? Also, you or the sister could create a Facebook page, and post the link here... Anything to get the word out.
Are the state police/state investigators involved at all?...Always remembering the missing...
03-25-2012, 09:16 PM #11
We do news articles monthly and the new developments get picked up by several newspapers and TV. State had a cold case detective on Sara's case since 2007 until this past week when he was terminated. Local lead investigator retired and new one recently was assigned. I've been talking to Sara's 'mates since August 2011, and LE have yet to return my calls or set up a meet. Have contacted Atty General, but never thought about politicians...that might work as our next tactic. Thanks for the suggestion. There is a FB acct which her sister created named Sara Anne Bushland. That had really helped locate Lots of the 1996 friends.
03-25-2012, 11:59 PM #12
That is so sad that LE is not exactly being the most cooperative...
Do you know Sara well? Would she have run away by chance?
Also, yes, definitely try contacting your local lawmakers... I'm not sure how Wisconsin is set up. When I lived in South Dakota, I've heard of people contacting their local representatives and getting results in what they were looking for (not necessarily missing people). I'd give it a shot....Always remembering the missing...
03-28-2012, 10:26 PM #13
Had a neighbor of Sara's contact me on a couple occasions. We've had great weather here in northern Wis, so I went with the neighbor to look at some areas on their property where they saw suspicious activity 1996-1998. My amateur eyes could see the potential for Sara having placed there and perhaps moved when the ground thawed. Oddly the weather we are having now was similar to 1996..an early spring. Called LE on Monday and left message I would search the area myself, if it wasn't worth their time to do so. I finally got that phone call. Friday I will finally be speaking with LE in Sara's case to go over my conversations with Sara's friends, their suspicions of what happened, what they knew was going on with Sara at the time and whether or not cadaver dogs would be of benefit for the current ground search. Hopefully they will continue to let the community help.
03-28-2012, 11:36 PM #14
That's great! I'm glad LE is getting involved again. Sometime it just takes time for information to come out.
Just by reading the little information I have, I have a feeling her 21 year old boyfriend knows more than he's said. Just my opinion, of course....Always remembering the missing...
04-16-2012, 01:18 PM #15
Okay, letters are being readied for our local and state politicians.
Next task, a small group of volunteers want to search prop of a new lead, especially to try to locate areas of possible grave sites. LE is having other areas searched by cadaver dogs later this summer and we don't want to miss an opportunity to have them follow up on this new lead as well, however we have to locate the "possible sites" beforehand. What equipment would the sleuth community advise? I'm thinking video cam, GPS, ribbons or spray paint to mark areas, metal detector?
The reason volunteers need to conduct the search is because LE has no info linking this lead to Sara's disappearance.
04-17-2012, 01:39 AM #16...Always remembering the missing...
06-12-2012, 09:07 PM #17
Does anyone have any experience in writing politicians for assistance? Do you start with local positions, or move right up to State representatives? What assistance do I ask for, and what response can I expect? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
06-15-2012, 12:07 AM #18
I hope that can help!...Always remembering the missing...
06-15-2012, 08:30 PM #19
Thanks, I know my people, I just don't know what to write.
06-16-2012, 05:22 AM #20
Wow, I'm in southeastern Wisconsin and have never heard about this case. I'd love to hear more. Wonder why it took 2 days to report Sara missing? Did Sara have a history of running away? So many questions.A.K.A.....Lovethechild
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06-17-2012, 09:20 PM #21
Sara's story,what is known, can be viewed in all articles on her web page at "findsarabushland.com." I've been researching this case since August 2011. In total, if we include Sara, this county has 3 unsolved murders, 2 of which were young girls in1996, Sara Bushland and Crystal Soulier, although 5 months apart. Crystal's body was found in Rock County, though we now believe she was killed here and body transported, perhaps by one of our own truckers! These girls hung out with the same groups of peers. I was fortunate to meet Sara's sister, Lesley, and together we met Crystal's sister, Freedom, about 4 months ago. There has been a change in investigators on Sara's case and they have verified Sara's disappearance was not handled effectively, testimonies and even fingerprints, dental records, and DNA has been lost. The goal of my little band of sleuths is to locate Sara's remains, as I do believe that much is do-able. I do, however, believe we have reached a point where things need to get political and so I am researching letter writing to politicians. It is frustrating to think that these crimes were committed by average to below average intelligence people, yet our LE with all their skills and training cannot figure them out...maybe they should take a class in "stupid?"
06-18-2012, 06:06 AM #22
Why do you believe Crystal was murdered in Washburn County (I'm assuming)? I looked up Crystal's case, and it took me to Janesville, which is far from where Sara went missing.
You mentioned truckers... Did Sara associate with truckers? I assume the truckers were not local......Always remembering the missing...
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06-18-2012, 08:34 AM #23
I'm not up on WI politics, but I'd ask this - do you have a congressional rep or senator who is a long term office holder, and is particularly well liked and/or close to his/her home district? If so, I would begin with that person, even though its going over the heads of local/state level politicians.
Here in Mass, whatever one thinks of their politics, senators Kennedy and Kerry were/are always well known for being EXTREMELY helpful to locals who called their office for help on just about anything, big or small, political or not, and whether it was "just" a local issue or not. If this happened in Mass and were I involved, I'd start by contacting Kerry's office (Kennedy were he still alive!). Do you have a Wisconsin rep or senator who is similar in stature/influence/in-tune with their constituents? That is who I would start with.
Usually your senator or congressional rep will have a local office in-state, either in their district (for the reps) or in the capital (for the senators). Start with that local office, and if the staffers don't seem to want to help, or are taking too long, call their Washington office.
I hope this helps you! I'm intrigued by Sara's case, and was very moved by the I formation and memories of her that are shared on her missing website. I wish you all the best of luck in trying to get the ball rolling again on her case.“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all." -Abp Oscar Romero
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06-28-2012, 07:19 AM #24
Thanks so much to fellow sleuthers. I will be on hiatus for a couple months while I recover from getting a tumor removed from my brain. Please help keep Sara's memory and search alive in my absence in any way possible. Thank you friends!
06-28-2012, 07:51 AM #25
Sending you wishes for healing and peace, MissKizzy!“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all." -Abp Oscar Romero
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