Clues add to mystery of missing pair

Missing Family: Inhaler, shoe, half-full bottle of wine discovered

March 18, 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.

A woman walking on the beach with friends Sunday found a small shoe, an inhaler and a half-full bottle of white wine that had washed up about a quarter-mile east of where a missing woman's minivan had been found on the shore that morning.

On Wednesday, Thurston County sheriff’s investigators were trying to link those items to the missing woman, Shantina “Kat” Smiley, and her missing 8-year-old son, Azriel Carver.

The pair have been missing since Saturday night, when they got lost on Boston Harbor Road before knocking on the door of an elderly couple’s home about 10 p.m. to use the phone and ask for directions.

Smiley and Azriel were on the way Saturday from Silverdale in Kitsap County to Castle Rock in Cowlitz – about a 130-mile trip – but Smiley got diverted from Interstate 5 and ended up in Olympia.

The shoe that washed up on shore Sunday was small enough that it might fit a child, said Cora Tunbert, who found the items while walking with friends near her Island View Court home. She also found a baseball and an orange rubber ball, she said.

“There’s always stuff on the beach,” Tunberg said. “(But) it was an unusually large amount of stuff on the beach.”

She said she picked up the items and was ready to throw them away Tuesday, but her husband called the sheriff’s office, thinking they might be related to Smiley and Azriel’s disappearance. Investigators arrived at the Tunbergs’ home Wednesday morning to pick up the items, she said.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy confirmed Wednesday that Smiley had bought a bottle of wine at Handy Pantry in west Olympia on Saturday night, before she went missing. Sheriff’s Sgt. Cheryl Stines confirmed that Azriel uses an inhaler.

Investigators still want to see whether Smiley’s fiancé can definitively link any of the recovered items as belonging to Smiley or Azriel, Mealy said. The fiancé, Robb Simmons, lived with Smiley and Azriel.

Mealy cautioned that even if investigators confirm that the items belong to Smiley and her son, it might not bring them any closer to finding the pair.

The search for Smiley and Azriel was focused Wednesday in the area of Island View Court. Bloodhounds walked up and down the streets, led on leashes by search-and-rescue volunteers. Mealy went up in a Coast Guard helicopter to help search the shoreline.

Charles Grimmer, who lives on Island View Drive, confirmed that search dogs had been to his home twice after his wife reported to the sheriff’s office that someone had knocked loudly and repeatedly on their garage door about 1 a.m. Sunday.

Grimmer said he was half-asleep as his wife, Rachel, was watching a movie, and they heard the loud knocks.

“Bang, bang bang bang,” Grimmer said, describing four knocks. He said his wife was frightened.

“We were thinking someone was trying to get in,” Grimmer said.

He said he activated the home’s alarm system, then went to front door and looked outside, but he could see no one. After his wife called the sheriff’s office, investigators came to the home with bloodhounds.

Stines confirmed that a search dog failed to pick up a scent at the home.

Grimmer said it’s possible that someone could climb any number of sets of steep stairs leading from the beach to homes on Island View Court, but it would be extremely dangerous at night.

“If you fell, you’d die,” he said.

Some have described Smiley’s activities in Olympia before she disappeared as erratic.

Smiley went to the Martin Way Diner before heading down Boston Harbor Road on Saturday night, and she paid for a corn dog but did not take it with her, Mealy has said. She was described by witnesses as falling down in the parking lot, he said.

Smiley had no ties to the Olympia area.

Smiley’s fiancé, Simmons, has told investigators that Smiley is a recovering alcoholic and recently had a relapse.

After Smiley got directions to the freeway from the elderly couple about 10 p.m. Saturday, she left in the minivan but went in the opposite direction of the freeway, toward the water, Mealy said Wednesday.

She then drove on a steep dirt road in an inaccessible residential area to the beach during low tide Saturday night, Mealy said. The minivan ended up on the shore of Little Fish Trap northeast of Boston Harbor, and that’s where Smiley and Azriel’s trail vanished, officials with the sheriff’s office have said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465

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