More than a week has passed since 17-year-old Sara McNease went missing from a Spokane Community College parking lot, and police say they have no new leads.
“It feels like a bad dream that we should be woken up from anytime,” said Emily Vincent, McNease’s mother. She said her family continues to search.
McNease, who also goes by Sara Gracelyn Vincent, was reported missing at about 5 p.m. Oct. 8, after she did not arrive home from attending her Running Start classes.
She is 5-foot-6 and 200 pounds, with short, curly blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a dark blue sherpa jacket, black joggers, black-and-white slipper boots, a baby-pink cross-body purse, and a Canon camera backpack full of camera gear, according to Vincent.
“It’s eight and a half days now and nothing,” Vincent said.
Police are continuing to investigate, said Spokane Police Sgt. Terry Preuninger.
Any contact McNease had with other people, “no matter how trivial,” is important information and should be reported to Crime Check, Preuninger said.
The car McNease drove to school was found in the SCC parking lot the day she disappeared.
“They impounded her car today so they can get prints and DNA, and otherwise we have no leads,” Vincent said Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve been handing out fliers everywhere and anywhere we can,” Vincent said. “We’re trying not to be frantic.”
The Vincent family is very close and stays in constant communication, she said.
“There’s just nothing, no phone calls, no text messages, no emails, nothing,” Vincent said. “My daughter has never gone 48 hours without contacting me.”
While most of the time McNease functions like a typical 17-year-old, medical conditions can cause her to handle traumatic situations differently.
She is on the autism spectrum, has a bipolar diagnosis and suffers from PTSD, Vincent said.
“She functions very high until it’s an emotional aspect, and then she functions at 12 or 13 years old,” Vincent said.
The day after her daughter went missing, Vincent plastered every gas station, coffee hut and convenience store from the state line to Spokane Valley with “missing” posters.
Vincent said her husband stayed home that first day on the “off chance” that McNease had run away, but would come home.
However, Vincent and her husband said they do not believe McNease showed signs she wanted to run away, and was constantly making future plans with her family and friends.
The family hired a private investigator on Oct. 10 to get ahead on the investigation, Vincent said.
Both the family and investigators say their “hands are tied” while evidence is processed, Vincent said.
McNease called her mother when she arrived at the SCC campus at about 8 a.m. on Oct. 8 but then did not make it to her first class..
When police located McNease’s car that evening, the keys were on the seat, the car was locked, and her phone was reset to factory settings.
The tablet that McNease left at home was also reset to factory settings, and police have both devices as evidence, Vincent said.
Her backpack was left behind, along with a note that said the teenager had gone to Idaho with her boyfriend.
Family and friends say McNease did not have a boyfriend and would not have hidden something like that from them.
The note, which was not written in McNease’s handwriting, was signed with McNease’s legal name, not Sara Gracelyn Vincent, the name she has used for years, Vincent said.
“I’m trying not to go to the very dark spot,” said Vincent.
With no new leads in the case, Vincent continues to pass out fliers, reach out to advocacy groups and use social media to look for her daughter.
She created a Facebook page called Find Sara Vincent to share updates and information. The page has more than 800 members, and people from California to Texas and beyond have posted in support of the Vincent family.
Vincent does not think her daughter remains in the area.
“Her hair stands out in the crowd, everybody notices that,” Vincent said. “It’d be really hard in the Spokane region to go somewhere and not have someone go ‘Oh my god, is that the girl?’ ”
As time progresses, Vincent continues to work toward her daughter’s safe return.
“Our goal is just to get my daughter home,” Vincent said. “We miss her and don’t care what the circumstances are that she left under. We just want her home.”
Anyone with information can use the names Sara McNease or Sara Vincent and should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
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