Homeward Bound McLemore

The Homeward Bound truck mural featuring Alyssa McLemore.

Photos and information about Alyssa McLemore, a young Native mother who went missing from Kent more than 10 years ago, will be featured on a new truck and semi-trailer to increase exposure for her case.

Officials with the Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit will unveil its newest Homeward Bound Truck — a program in partnership with Kam-Way Transportation to assist in the recovery of missing children and adults — at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, between the State Capitol Building and the Temple of Justice.

Since the program started in 2005, it has featured 28 individuals, three of whom have been recovered. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six children are recovered due to the public exposure of a photo.

Last seen in Kent on April 9, 2009, McLemore was 21 when she disappeared. Homeward Bound trucks log tens of thousands of miles, which could generate leads regarding her possible whereabouts. Photos and information remain in place until the trailers are sold, said Chris Loftis, media and community relations officer with the State Patrol. That’s usually one to two years.

“I’m really really happy for ... the entire McLemore family,” said Roxanne White, a survivor, advocate and activist for missing and murdered indigenous people who works with McLemore’s family to share her story. “This family went for nine years without any media. They were literally ... alone, isolated, out of hope.”

McLemore’s grandmother, Barbara McLemore, had reached out to Alyssa to let her know that her mother was ill, White said. “she said ‘I’ll be there grandma; I’m on my way.’ She never showed up,” White said.

“Alyssa’s mom passed away four days after Alyssa disappeared. ... They knew from the beginning this was out of the ordinary. She would not abandon her daughter,” who was a toddler when her mom went missing, White said.

McLemore was featured in a recently released Al Jazeera documentary on the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women in the United States. “The Search: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” highlights the stories of four women, including Rosenda Strong, who left her home in Wapato to ride with an acquaintance to Legends Casino in Toppenish and was last seen Oct. 2.

Strong is one of dozens of Native women and men who have gone missing, died mysteriously or have been found murdered on and around the 1.3-million-acre Yakama Reservation. The exact number is unknown.

When the semi is unveiled Wednesday, members of McLemore’s family and tribal representatives will attend, according to a news release. Others expected at the event include Kam-Way Transportation leaders, the State Patrol chief and Kent Police Department investigators, as well as legislators supporting missing person recovery efforts and the recently passed legislation that gives greater focus to missing Native women.

The unveiling will also honor State Patrol Trooper Renee Padgett, the creator of the Homeward Bound Program who lost a long battle to cancer.

The latest Homeward Bound truck being unveiled is the third this year. In January, officials debuted a truck featuring information about Teekah Lewis, who was 2 when she disappeared from a Tacoma bowling alley on Jan. 23, 1999. In late April, they unveiled a truck featuring photos and information about Misty Donna Copsey, who left for the fair in Puyallup on Sept. 17, 1992.

Copsey was 14 then. Today, she would be 41.

Hers is just one of many missing persons cases in Washington. Some are recent but others, like Copsey’s, are cold cases that are decades old. Her poster on the State Patrol missing persons page is next to that for Maverick Arlin Craig, 28, who has been missing from Yakima since Dec. 1, 2018. His is a Yakima Police Department case and those with information should call 509-575-3012.

Another poster among the 62 on the page features Kris Fowler, who has been missing since Oct. 12, 2016. Fowler was hiking and had started at the border with Mexico with a goal of completing the 2,800-mile trek to the Canadian border. He was last seen in the White Pass area. Those with information should call the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office at 509-574-2500.

Older cases of people missing from Yakima include Susan Libby Marable, who was last seen downtown on April 23, 1991, and Cody Henry Turner, who went missing on July 26, 2015.

Reach Tammy Ayer at tayer@yakimaherald.com or on Facebook.