780 AM | 96.1 FM 

“YOURS FOR WESTERN ALASKA”

(907) 443-5221

Missing Nome Woman is “Loving” and “Stubborn,” Her Friends and Family Say

Police search for Florence Okpealuk of Nome. Photo: NPD.

Florence Okpealuk, a 33-year-old Nome woman, went missing at the end of August. Since then, the community, police and the FBI have been looking for clues about her disappearance. KNOM’s Emily Hofstaedter reports on Okpealuk’s life before she went missing.  


Her name is Florence, but friends call her “Flo”. It’s hard for Lucille Weyapuk to pick just three words to describe her friend Flo.

“Humorous, you know… sophisticated, encouraging, loving, friendly, gosh! You name it!

– Lucille Weyapuk

Weyapuk and Okpealuk grew up in Wales as close friends and they are distant cousins, but Weyapuk gets a bit lost figuring out the family tree. 

“We’re pretty close because she’s named after my mom. Ever since she was a little girl she’s always baked goodies for my dad and for all of us siblings. She probably started doing that when she was five or six.”

Lucille Weypauk lives in Anchorage now, where the two women last visited in March. When Okpealuk came through town for medical treatment, she would always give Weyapuk a call.  

Flo’s older sister Madeleine Blaire Okpealuk, who goes by Blaire, has a different perception of her sister.

“Growing up she was stubborn but she was always organized and responsible.”

– Blaire Okpealuk

Flo is the second youngest of seven siblings. Blaire says they’ve had their share of tragedy as a family too. 

“We lost our Dad in 1998. It seems as though we were almost forced to grow up fast.” 

Flo is the mother of a six-year-old girl. On social media, she posted dozens of pictures with her daughter. Flo wears square-rimmed glasses and her face is framed by long black hair. The mother and daughter sport matching smiles and sometimes even t-shirts.

At the time she was last seen, Blaire believes that Flo was living in an apartment with her boyfriend. Her sister says Flo was struggling with alcoholism. Flo had some recent criminal charges, her first serious legal trouble. Blaire says that was something that gave her sister anxiety. 

Throughout all of those challenges, Flo kept her focus on her little girl, her sister says. Flo continued to share childcare with her daughter’s father.

“She was pretty active with her daughter. She brought her daughter to community events or participated in activities for her daughter.”   

– Blaire Okpealuk

It was a big red flag when Flo dropped out of sight. She always kept in touch with family. When Blaire got a call from Flo’s boyfriend she immediately went looking. 

“I started at all of the bars, in town, people.”

The dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers says that Okpealuk was last seen on Nome’s West Beach, about 1-2 miles out of town, leaving a tent. She reportedly left a jacket and shoes outside. Tents are a normal sight on Nome’s West Beach during the summer as miners and other temporary residents set up a short-term space. 

Searchers go out every day to look for Okpealuk. The community held a prayer vigil Sept 12th outside of Old St. Joseph’s park. It offered some relief for Blaire.

“I think it was hopeful and it was reassuring.”

– Blaire Okpealuk

Law enforcement has not released any leads about the investigation. Meanwhile, friends and family around the state wait for answers. 

Anyone with any information regarding the disappearance or possible whereabouts of Florence Okpealuk can call Nome Police Department at 443-5262. Callers can remain anonymous.

Image at Top: Police are searching for missing woman Florence Okpealuk of Nome. Photo from NPD, 2020.

Share this story

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

Goldbug Fire Grows to Over 4,500 Acres

The Goldbug Fire, located about 25 miles south of Deering, has rapidly expanded to 4,633 acres as of the morning of June 15. Alaska Fire Service has mobilized a crew of six smoke jumpers to provide protection to a mining site just one quarter mile from the fire’s edge. At

Read More »

KNOM Radio to Host First-Ever Music Fest

KNOM Radio Mission will host its first-ever Music Fest Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. The event, hosted at KNOM’s Back Yard, will be a great opportunity for the Bering Strait region to gather and celebrate the start of summer. Admission to the event is free.  The two-day Music Fest will feature

Read More »

June 13: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sea ice has not completely melted out of the Bering Sea, there

Read More »

Teller Man Arrested for Terroristic Threatening

A Teller man has been arrested and transported to Nome’s Anvil Mountain Correctional Center following allegations of threatening to burn down a house, according to an affidavit from Alaska State Troopers. The affidavit reports that Chester Topkok, 26, was reported by his niece, Belinda Smith, who called Troopers on June

Read More »

More

Newsletter:

Work for Us:

Jobs

Contact

Nome:

(907) 443-5221 

Anchorage:

(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.