Lost in the Last Frontier
Active and open doesn’t mean investigating in missing persons cases
By Megan Edge
Story Created: Mar 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM AKDT
Story Updated: Mar 23, 2012 at 8:37 PM AKDT
ALASKA - The bold headline running across the top of an Alaska State Trooper missing person bulletin reads “Endangered Adult.” Beneath, the name Loy Suthammavong is prominently placed in large type. Then a photograph of a 30-year-old man with black hair, a high forehead, a slight mustache and somber expression.
He was last seen in Houston on December 2, 2011. Three days later the Anchorage Fire Department responded to a car fire and found Suthammovong’s car in flames – AFD declared it arson.
Tuesday night, March 20, an unidentified body was found off of Eklutna Lake Road. Thursday the human remains were identified – they belonged to Loy Suthammavong.
Suthammavong’s homicide case is not closed, but his missing persons case is solved, unlike many others in Alaska.
Three days ago, he would have joined a John Doe, whose remains were found off Third Avenue in 2001, and “Eklutna Annie,” a young woman believed to be in her late teens to early 20s with dirty brown hair that fell to the middle of her back. She fell victim to serial killer Robert Hansen and was discovered in 1980, but was never identified.
According to Alaska State Trooper Lieutenant Craig Allen, in 2011 2,071 Alaska residents were reported missing. A large percentage of those reported cases are runaway minors.
The number, 2,071, is fairly representative of Alaska’s average annual missing persons numbers, said Allen. On the Alaska State Troopers Missing Persons Bulletin website, there are 70-plus active investigations dating back as far as the early 1970s, but according to troopers those don’t include all of the state’s missing people.
“It all depends on circumstances.”
Brown-eyed Amy Fandel has blonde wavy hair and a gap-toothed smile in a photo on a flyer. She was 8 years old when she and her 13-year-old brother, Scott C. Fandel, went missing from their Sterling cabin home.
The last time their mother saw them was September 5, 1978. Her daughter was sporting a sweater, blue vest and stripped jeans. Scott Fandel wore a striped shirt and blue jeans.
That night was nothing out of the ordinary. The duo had accompanied mother Margaret Fandel and aunt Cathy Schonfelder to dinner at the bar and restaurant Good Time Charlie’s. At approximately 10 p.m., they were dropped off at home. Their mother and aunt returned to the bar.
The cabin the kids returned to didn’t have a lock on the front door and was in a heavily wooded area.
After being dropped off they visited with the neighbor kids. At 11:45 p.m. another passing neighbor said lights were on in their cabin.
Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., the children’s mom and aunt returned from the bar and found a boiling pot of water, a macaroni package and an open can of tomatoes on the counter. To Margaret Fandel this was normal. She assumed her son had fallen asleep while cooking up his favorite bedtime snack.
The next morning when Margaret Fandel left for work her kids weren’t there. This too seemed normal. All that changed when she attempted to call her daughter at school. School officials informed her neither child had made it to class that day.
Bullet shell casings were later found near the cabin. Authorities were never able to determine if they were related to the case. For many years Amy Fandel’s father was a person of interest in the case. Many theories regarding his involvement were speculated upon. There was never evidence to support the supposition.
Today the siblings would be in their late 40s. An online web page has computer-generated photos of what both children may now look like. Scott Fandel has brown hair, a straight smile, blue eyes and the face of man. His sister’s smile has straightened out. She no longer looks like the doe-eyed girl she was the last time her family saw her.
Their cases are considered a non-family abduction.
Some years later their childhood home burned down, leaving the lost children with no place to return to.