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FBI Joins Search for Florence Okpealuk, Releases Some New Leads to the Public

Agents from the FBI search for Florence Okpealuk alongside Nome volunteers by the Snake River in September. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2020).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation now has agents on the ground in Nome who are part of the search for Florence Okpealuk. Okpealuk is a local woman who was last seen over two weeks ago and was reported missing at the end of August.

Chloe Martin is the Public Affairs officer for the FBI and reports that six additional agents are assisting the local search, at the request of the Nome Police Department.  

“Maybe we have a tool of technique that we can lend to our local law enforcement partners to assist in their active investigations.”

– Chloe Martin

Martin would not specify what techniques are being used to help find Okpealuk in this case. She does insist that the FBI has been part of this case from afar since sometime in the earlier days of the investigation.

Press-Release-from-FBI-and-NPD-09.13.2020

On Sunday morning, the FBI, Nome Police and Alaska State Troopers issued a joint press release seeking public assistance in identifying a pick-up truck parked at the Port of Nome around the time Okpealuk disappeared. Within three hours it was found. Law enforcement is not reporting any suspects or that any individuals have been taken into custody.

Martin would not share additional details about the significance of the pick-up truck, citing the integrity of the investigation.

The Nome Police and now the FBI continue to stress the importance of local cooperation in this investigation. Here’s Martin speaking to KNOM on Sunday evening by phone:

“Law enforcement officials continue to pursue the case on a well-defined investigative strategy. We know the community is hurting and anxious for answers. We are working side by side with our local partners to bring Florence home.”

– Chloe Martin

Nome city officials told KNOM last week that the City has been working with the new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator Ingrid Cumberlidge to procure more resources, including the FBI. Cumberlidge would not comment on this case.

And Martin from the FBI would not confirm the role of that partnership in this investigation.

It’s not unusual for the FBI to assist local law enforcement.”

– Chloe Martin

At this time, the FBI and local law enforcement are not reporting that Okpealuk’s disappearance is part of a larger public safety threat. Anyone with information regarding her disappearance is encouraged to call the Nome Police at 443-5262.

Image at Top: Agents from the FBI search alongside Nome volunteers by the Snake River on Saturday. Nome, Alaska. Photo: Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM.

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