Bellingham Police Lt. Scott Snider is tired.
It's about 11 p.m. on Friday night, Oct. 1, and Snider, who oversees the department's investigations unit, is in downtown Bellingham to brief volunteers who are canvassing streets, handing out fliers and talking to people about a mystery that has permeated the city with a sense of unease - the disappearance of 18-year-old Dwight A. Clark.
Clark, a Western Washington University freshman originally from Auburn, was less than a week into life in Bellingham when he left a party in the 1000 block of Indian Street at about 2 a.m. Sept. 26 and vanished.
Police have no evidence that a crime occurred, but despite the massive search efforts of hundreds of volunteers who've covered miles of central Bellingham and handed out thousands of fliers, as well as the efforts of nine detectives, no trace of Clark has been found.
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As he sits in the department's mobile precinct command center, essentially a renovated RV, on Friday night, Snider's fatigue is evident in yawns and a coffee cup kept at arms length.
He got to the police station before 9 a.m. that morning. Along with three other detectives, he'll be downtown until 2 a.m. Saturday morning.
To the detectives investigating Clark's disappearance, the case has meant long hours at work and the use of every investigative method at their disposal, Snider said.
To Clark's family and friends, many of whom are in Bellingham helping the search, his disappearance has caused grief, the anguish of not knowing what happened to him, and sleepless nights.
But everyone is buoyed by a simple hope - that Clark will be found.
"I'm optimistic in the hope that we will find Dwight," Snider said.
Bellingham detectives began investigating Clark's disappearance on Monday, with a focus on recovering any evidence that would indicate where he is, Snider said.
They reviewed records of phone calls and text messages made from Clark's cell phone the night he disappeared. They tried to locate the phone using technology known as "pinging" but couldn't - the phone is either turned off, dead or broken.
Search dogs with Whatcom County Search and Rescue used the scent from Clark's clothing to try to retrace his steps that night. From that, police believe he walked north from the party or into downtown.
Friends of Clark said Thursday that a blank text message was sent from his phone 40 minutes after he left the party and was traced to the downtown area.
A helicopter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine division also assisted with an aerial survey of Clark's last known locations, but couldn't find anything.
Detectives made contact with family and friends of Clark's to gauge who he is and his behavioral patterns, as well as determine what he was doing that night.
Based on those interviews, detectives have broken down what Clark was doing Saturday night, who he was with and where he was into 10-minute intervals, Snider said.
As the investigation lengthened, the methods detectives used proliferated, Snider said.
They've done forensic work on Clark's computer and contacted businesses downtown with security cameras that may have footage of him walking around, Snider said.
They've identified unoccupied houses in the areas Clark was that night and people with criminal histories who may be of concern in a case like Clark's.
As the case gained publicity, detectives reviewed information coming in via tips and phone calls to see if it could provide leads. On Friday, they took 30 phone calls, Snider said.
The U.S. Coast Guard assisted in searching the coastline along Bellingham Bay, Snider said.
Police have coordinated with the volunteers in their ground search efforts, Snider said. The volunteers have completely covered the York, Western Washington University and Sehome neighborhoods, as well as the Central Business District.
They've also covered the Sehome Arboretum, trails leading to Boulevard Park, areas along creeks, parks and other areas, Snider said. They redoubled their efforts downtown on Saturday night. The strategy downtown is to find anyone who may have seen Clark last weekend.
"It's about cultivating information about last weekend and to find something that will give us a good direction," Snider said.
The volunteer effort has covered territory and made contacts the police couldn't possibly hope to do on their own, Snider said.
"With all this volunteer effort, they've been able to comb streets, alleys, fields," Snider said. "There is no way we would be able to undertake making contact with a fraction of what these folks are able to."
Daily briefings are held to inform other officers of any developments and things to watch for, Snider said. Detectives are frequently reviewing the case to think of new strategies.
They are investigating other crimes that occurred in the area that night, including an assault that occurred four hours before Clark vanished and was reported by a bicyclist who said four men beat him with baseball bats in an unprovoked assault. The men drove away in a truck.
Throughout the week, more detectives have assisted the case's lead detective, Gina Crosswhite, in working it.
"At least eight detectives have touched this case and tried to provide investigative assistance to Detective Crosswhite," Snider said. "She's worked a tremendous amount of hours."
As the days dragged on, Snider said a frustrating realization developed.
"As we've put out all this information, all this coverage, all this volunteer effort, you realize this isn't garnering a lot of results," Snider said. "We're not developing a meaningful explanation."
The lack of developments isn't just frustrating, it's adding to the case's mystery.
"This is really outside the norm," Snider said. "We usually have some development by now that we know the person's here or that there's been some kind of crime. It's unique in that it's just not developing anything that's helping us find him."
The investigation will continue until Clark is found, Snider said.
"We'll maintain an open investigation until we can solve it," Snider said. "It's rare that it goes unresolved."
'WE NEED TO FIND HIM'
About 120 volunteers continued to search for Clark on Saturday, focusing on Fairhaven Park and along Squalicum Parkway, said Pennie Saum, a friend of Clark's family.
The reward fund for information about Clark's location is now over $16,000, Saum said.
A candlelight vigil for Clark was scheduled in Auburn Saturday night at a skate park he frequented, Saum said.
Saum said she wasn't sure how the search efforts will continue after Saturday night, which is the last one coordinated by police.
"We're not sure what tomorrow's going to bring," Saum said. "We're just kind of on a wing and a prayer. We've had people with time off of work and a lot people have to go home."
Saum said the efforts are aimed at giving some answers to Clark's mother, RaeLyn.
"Our biggest thing is peace for his mom," Saum said. "We need to find him for her. Maybe we'll never know what happened, but we'll know where he is."
Saum has a statement for anyone who knows where Clark is.
"We know that you know something," Saum said. "Go to somebody and tell them. That's our plea."