A day hike to summit Washington’s Vesper Peak has turned into a 66-day search for 28-year-old, Pennsylvania native Samantha “Sam” Sayers. The facts of her disappearance are simple, the theories are wild and speculative, the truth is somewhere within, but most unnerving- Sam is still missing without a trace.
She set out on a solo day hike in the Mount Baker-Snoqualimie National Forest, something she has done many times before, with snacks, water and a hoodie in her pack. Her boyfriend, Kevin Dares, stayed behind for work and expected her return to their shared Belltown apartment at 6 p.m. When she did not return and failed to pick up calls, Kevin headed toward the trail to find her.
After arriving at Sunrise Mine Trailhead, 27 miles south of Darrington on the Mountain Loop Highway, Kevin spotted her car- still locked with no trace of her return from her hike. Details of the order of his actions are unclear. With darkness closing in, Kevin says he set out on the trail at 10 p.m. with a flashlight he had purchased at a nearby gas station on his way to the mountain.
He did not find Sam, but says he fell and broke his light while searching. He contacted 911 to report her missing at approximately 1 a.m. He also drove down to the ranger’s station for help. Kevin did not call Sam’s parents, instead reports state Sam’s mom, Lisa, discovered Sam was missing by Facebook post from Kevin on August 2.
In the days following her disappearance, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office along with hundreds of volunteers, dogs and trained search and rescue personnel scoured the mountain for Sam. Helicopters equip with FLIR (thermal imaging cameras) and drones were also deployed in the search. On Aug. 23, after an extensive and exhaustive search, one of the longest in recent history, the sheriff’s department suspended the search for Sam.
Sam’s mom was determined to continue looking for her child. Kevin and a host of family and friends began coordinating their own search. A GoFundMe page was set up in which 1,255 people have given upwards of $58,000 in 2 months. Lisa has staunchly defended the spending of these funds on helicopters and search efforts after being questioned by people on the Internet.
While Lisa’s been extremely transparent, vulnerable and remains ardently optimistic about Sam being found alive, Kevin and his father, Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Dares, set out to Vesper Peak to search with their own team for nearly two weeks.
Still no Sam.
With nearly 1,600 people missing in national forests and on public land, it is difficult to speculate about the causes of all these missing people. There are the obvious theories including wild animal attacks, getting lost or falling. There are broader theories like getting trapped in rock slides, falling in old mine shafts/vents, getting stuck in a crevasse or even falling off cliffs and into tree tops of lower lying areas.
Supporting Sam’s family in their care and concern for her and asking tough questions are not mutually exclusive. Sadly, there are people in this world out to hurt and cause undue stress for victims’ families for no apparent reasons- this is not the case with this article.
Occam’s razor says the simplest explanation is probably the most likely, but after 2 months of searching with no trace of Sam- none of her gear has been found, no tracks, no blood, no clothes and cell phone pings turned up nothing.
A man hiking near Vesper peak’s summit posted video on August 1 containing images of what appeared to be Sam in the background, making her way effortlessly up the mountain. He has been questioned by Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. In the search for truth and Sam, why not explore other theories?
Foul play. It has not been ruled out and the number one suspect in most missing persons cases is the spouse or significant other. When asked if there were any persons of interest in Sam’s disappearance, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office responded, “at this time there is no evidence to indicate any crime occurred.”
Another theory concerning foul play is of abduction near or around the trailhead. There have been several cases of abduction and murder on trails and in national parks. Someone could be holding her captive or something more sinister. These are truly horrible theories to consider but cannot be thrown out.
Sam’s Still Missing
The unnerving truth, Sam’s still missing and has not been heard of since August 1. She was last seen walking opposite the direction of the trail from the summit of Vesper Peak.
Sam was bald from alopecia (she would have patchy, short hair today), has green eyes, weighs 125 pounds, stands 5-feet-8-inches and has star constellation tattoos on her head. She was last seen wearing a green sports bra, grey yoga pants and REI boots. It is believed she had a maroon hoodie in her blue backpack, red or silver hiking pole and a sun hat.
If you have any information regarding Sam Sayer’s disappearance contact Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office (425) 775-3000 or 911.
[Feature Photo: Sam Sayer/Handout]