Leelah Smith

Leelah Smith

Still no leads in search for missing Lower Elwha woman

23-year-old last heard from in January

PORT ANGELES — Family, friends and law enforcement continue searching for Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member Leelah Smith of Port Angeles.

Smith, 23, has been listed as a missing indigenous person by the State Patrol on behalf of the Lower Elwha Tribal Police Department. She is described as being 5-feet-tall and weighing 95 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

“There’s not a whole lot of information,” said Elwha Police Chief Sam White on Friday.

She was reported missing by her mother, Keri Ellis, on Feb. 17. She was last heard from on Jan. 10.

The Elwha police have contacted other law enforcement agencies and social service organizations, White said.

“We have called coroners, jails, hospitals and law enforcement agencies all up and down the I-5 corridor. We even called organizations such as Goodwill because they often track people when they provide services,” he said.

They also are putting Smith’s case into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, an information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States.

“We are covering all our bases and using all the resources we have. Partnering with the county sheriff’s office has been extremely important,” White said.

Clallam County Sheriff’s Sgt. Amy Bundy wrote in a Thursday afternoon email that she had spoken with Ernie Grimes from the Lower Elwha Police Department on Wednesday and offered any assistance needed.

The sheriff’s office has not heard from Leelah or spoken to her mother, Bundy wrote.

Ellis is asking anyone who has seen her daughter to get in touch with her at 360-461-8719.

“She’s always been pretty easy to find. We are from here and people know us. We started asking questions and we realized no one had seen her,” Ellis said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

Smith called her mother on Jan. 10 and said she was in Renton and Ellis told her she needed to come home.

“Once a week she always called and then that stopped. What I’m most worried about is she doesn’t hide things from me. So there’s no reason for her to be secretive now. She would tell me if something was wrong,” Ellis said.

Smith said she believes her daughter is with a 36-year-old man who is known to frequent Port Angeles, Sequim, Kitsap County, Snohomish County, the Seattle suburb of Tukwila and possibly Oregon as well.

Smith said the man has multiple warrants and has been abusive toward her daughter.

In addition to the FBI (since Smith is a tribal member), a bounty hunter is involved in the search because the man has a bench warrant out for his arrest after he failed to appear for a Sept. 22 court hearing.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at Brian.Gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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