The case of a woman and her son who were last heard from early Saturday evening in Washington state has investigators stumped after her minivan was found submerged in a difficult to access area that is “heavily timbered.”
Shantina Smiley and her son Azriel were making a 120 mile trip to visit the woman’s stepfather when the two suddenly vanished. Noticeably missing from the recovered vehicle were Smiley and her son, as well as their luggage and the woman’s purse. Lt. Chris Mealy of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said the case is difficult because it is not even clear that a crime occurred:
“We don’t have a suspect because we don’t know if it’s a crime,” said Mealy. “Our options are open. We’re not saying it’s foul play and we’re not saying it’s not, and we’re not saying she didn’t voluntary leave.”
“We can’t explain what the hell she was doing out there, if she was even out there at all,” the lieutenant said.
Lt. Mealy said there are no indications Smiley would intentionally disappear:
“This woman had no enemies, no history of domestic abuse and no spousal abuse. From all indications she was a very stable woman, a very loving woman,” said Mealy. “And she had a job as a medical coder.”
“I don’t have any freaking clue what happened.”
Smiley’s journey has been documented in part by a series of surveillance cameras, each capturing footage of Smiley and her son during their journey. As the evening wore on, Smiley made several stops at shops and restaurants before knocking at the door of an elderly couple to use the phone and get directions. Although the directions provided were simple, police say, Smiley headed out in the opposite direction and has not been seen since. Her vehicle was removed from a private beach at 11:15 the next morning.