After 21 years, search for girl still continues |

After 21 years, search for girl still continues

Gary E. Salazar

— Every year, no matter what happens, the day comes. For most, it is just another day, but for one family, it is a day that is filled with grief, sadness and agony.
On Nov. 21, 1979, Paul and Mona Blee lost their 15-year-old daughter. It has been 21 years since Marie Blee disappeared, but her mother can remember the day like it was yesterday.
“I remember her bouncing out the door and telling her to have a good time,” Mona Blee said Tuesday. “I had no idea that would be the last time I saw her.”
The Hayden High School sophomore went to a party in Craig that night and was never seen of again by her family.
Year after year, Nov. 21 comes and the pain never goes away, Mona Blee said.
“It has been an eternity,” she said. “It seems like it has been forever.”
In the years that passed, time has taken its toll on Mona Blee to the point where she thinks she will never see her daughter again.
“It has taken me a long time to admit that I will never see her again,” she said. “But there is still a part of me that still believes she is alive. But I know that she might not be alive anymore.”
When Nov. 21 rolls around, the family’s thoughts about the couple’s youngest birth child becomes more intense.
“It is hard to describe what we go through,” she said. “There is always the misery of it. We can talk about her and talk about the good times, but there are times when we are sad and still hurt. It is like taking a beating.”
Although Blee’s disappearance has remained a mystery, a multi-jurisdictional task force continues trying to piece together the case.
Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg is the spokesman of the investigation.
He is being assisted with officers from the FBI, Routt County Sheriff’s Office and the Hayden and Craig police departments.
For more than a year, the task force has been meeting twice a week in an attempt to bring closure for the family.
“It is marvelous what they have done,” Mona Blee said. “They have done a terrific job. We just have praise for what they are doing.
“I feel we are closer to finding her more than ever.”
Currently, the task force is interviewing people who are pertinent to the case, Hoberg said.
“We get so much information we have to make sure it is legitimate,” he said. “We have more interviews to do. When you do an interview, it leads to more interviews.”
This past spring, the task force received information that led to searches of areas in Moffat and Routt counties.
“Right now, we have not received any real breaking news that could help us out,” he said. “If someone knows something, they need to come forward.”
The arrest of Stephen Skufca, 42, in October raised the eyebrows of the task force. Skufca is one of three men authorities have identified as suspects.
Skufca is currently in the Moffat County Jail after he allegedly tried to run over a man with his car. He also was caught with drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Although Skufca is in jail, the task force has had no contact with him.
“The arrest of Skufca has not led to any information,” Hoberg said. “If he knows anything or wants to come forward, he can contact us. He is going to have to make the first move.”
Skufca has been identified by authorities as a suspect, along with Monty Doolin and Max Abel Garcia. Witnesses have put Blee with three men the night she disappeared.
Hoberg is hopeful that next spring the task force can conduct more searches. But the searches will be done only if investigators receive information.
“If we get information about a specific site, we will search the area,” he said. “As of late, we have not gotten any information that would make us go out and do a search.”
The work still does not take away the pain Mona Blee feels every year around Thanksgiving.
“This is not one of my favorite holidays,” she said. “This time of the year brings back bad memories.

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