Search for closure
Parents of missing girl lend assistance in Junction case
Steamboat Springs — For Paul and Ramona Blee, helping to search for a missing Grand Junction woman and her daughter has helped the couple cope with the loss of their own daughter who vanished more than 20 years ago.
On April 16, Texas-based Laura Recovery Center Foundation organized the largest search in Mesa County history, in an attempt to find Jennifer and Abby Blagg.
On the day Marie Blee would have turned 38, the former Hayden couple volunteered to help find the missing woman and girl.
The Blees are among hundreds of people who have volunteered to help in the search, after Blagg and her daughter disappeared from their Grand Junction home on Nov. 13, 2001.
The search began April 17 and is expected to last two weeks. Since the effort started, the Blees have been helping out everyday.
“We felt it was important to try and help give someone else some closure,” Ramona Blee said Tuesday morning.
Closure is something the Blees have been seeking since their daughter disappeared the evening of Nov. 21, 1979.
At the time, Marie Blee was a 15-year-old sophomore at Hayden High School.
The years have slowly passed for the couple without any hint of where their daughter might be, and efforts by a multijurisdictional task force has been unable solve the mystery.
Blee disappeared after she attended a party in Craig. The disappearance forced the couple to move from Hayden to Grand Junction in 1984.
In 1999, a task force comprised of sheriff deputies from Routt and Moffat counties and representatives from the FBI, Hayden and Craig police departments started to re-examine the case.
Initially, the task force met on a monthly basis but leads have slowly dried up. At this point, the task force no longer meets.
“We still have hope that someone will step forward and give us the information we need,” Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said, who served as the task force spokesman.
“Somebody knows what happened that night.”
Authorities have identified Stephen Skufca, Monty Doolin and Max Abel Garcia as suspects.
Witnesses have put Blee with the three men the night she disappeared, but authorities have been unable to prove the three men are connected to her disappearance.
“Right now, we are not actively pursuing any leads,” Hoberg said. “But if information comes in, we will check it out.”
Although the task force has been unable to determine what happened to Blee, her parents praise the work the task force has done.
“I have been really pleased,” Ramona Blee said. “They followed up with every bit of information that came in.”
To help out in the search for Blagg and her daughter, the Blees have been helping prepare and serve meals for volunteers.
“This has been a healing experience for us,” Ramona Blee said. “We feel like we are doing something to help. It has been a positive experience.”
So far, volunteers have been unable to find the woman and the girl in the remote areas of Mesa County that are close to the family’s home.
The Laura Recovery Center was started by Bob and Gay Smith after their 12-year-old daughter disappeared in Friendswood, Texas.
A massive search to find the girl was also unsuccessful.
Blee said she knows what the Smiths and members of the Blagg family go through on a daily basis.
“It is tough,” she said. “We think about Marie on her birthday, but we are always thinking about her anyway.”
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