No new clues in case of missing woman, son

Mom, Boy: Divers look in Puget Sound, while police comb van again

March 17, 2010 

  • Whom to call

    The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information about Shantina “Kat” Smiley and Azriel J. Carver’s whereabouts to call 360-786-5500, Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222, or 911.

Dive teams continued searching Puget Sound for a missing Silverdale woman and her 8-year-old son Tuesday, and investigators took another look at their abandoned minivan, but neither effort produced new clues to the missing pair's whereabouts.

Shantina “Kat” Smiley and her son, Azriel J. Carver, last were seen about 10 p.m. Saturday. Their abandoned minivan was found Sunday on a rocky beach at Little Fish Trap, northeast of Boston Harbor.

Thurston County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy said that Tuesday’s search along the shoreline of Dana Passage and Budd Inlet included dive team members who used a submersible camera and sonar to try to locate the pair.

Mealy said detectives took a second look at Smiley’s minivan after the inside of the vehicle, which had been partly underwater at high tide, dried out. They dusted the vehicle for fingerprints but found no new evidence, he said.

When a neighbor discovered the minivan on the beach Sunday morning, Smiley’s wallet, containing identification and credit cards, was in the backseat, but her purse was missing. The van’s side door and rear hatch were open.

There is no evidence of foul play, Mealy has said.

Smiley’s fiancé, Robb Simmons, has told investigators that Smiley was recovering from an alcohol problem, Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy James Chamberlain confirmed Tuesday. Simmons has told The Olympian that Smiley was on medication for anxiety.

No new search efforts were planned for today, Chamberlain wrote in an e-mail late Tuesday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office is following up on a number of tips that have been called in, Mealy said.

Smiley has no ties to the Olympia area, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. Simmons has said he has no idea why they stopped in Olympia, at roughly the midpoint of their drive to Castle Rock to visit Smiley’s stepfather.

Hobert Pannkuk, a reserve sheriff’s deputy who was serving as the search commander, said a Coast Guard helicopter had assisted with an air search of Puget Sound on Monday, but the windy weather prohibited a helicopter search Tuesday.

Mealy cautioned that investigators aren’t assuming that Smiley and Carver drowned. He said the disappearances are “very suspicious,” but they aren’t ruling out any possibilities, including that she and her son left the area on foot, or that Smiley left the area safely with her son and does not want to be found.

Smiley and her son last were seen when Smiley knocked on the door of a residence on 46th Avenue off Boston Harbor Road to ask for directions back to I-5, Mealy said. The residents reported that Smiley drove up to the home in her minivan, then left in the vehicle, Mealy has said.

About 9:50 p.m., a store surveillance camera recorded Smiley driving up to the Gull Harbor Mercantile on Boston Harbor Road, but it was closed.

Earlier witness accounts placed Smiley and her son at the Martin Way Diner at 9 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses said Smiley was acting erratically and might have fallen in the parking lot. Smiley bought a corn dog at the diner but left without it.

About 7:50 p.m. Saturday, Smiley and Azriel stopped and made a purchase at the Handy Pantry on Olympia’s west side.

Jill Pribbenow, one of the neighbors who discovered the minivan, said Tuesday that the keys were on the dashboard.

Pribbenow said the dirt road that leads down a steep slope to the beach is especially dark at night and is difficult to navigate. She said the disappearance of Smiley and her son is “completely weird.”

The water current on Dana Passage off Little Fish Trap is extremely fast when the tides change, Pribbenow said.

Simmons has said he was on his way to meet Smiley and her son in Castle Rock on Saturday evening after Cub Scout training. He has a Web page at www.robbsimmons.com where he has shared information about the events leading to Smiley and Azriel’s disappearance.

Simmons appeared on several national news programs Tuesday to discuss the case.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465

jpawloski@theolympian.com

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