Detective Glen Klinkhart's life changed on one cold spring night in Anchorage, Alaska, when one case nearly destroyed his passion and motivation for his job as a homicide investigator.
"I was ready to quit," Klinkhart said. "I told my family, 'I don't think this is the job for me.'"
The job, for more than three weeks, had been to find two boys — Malcolm and Isaiah Johnson — who had gone missing in March 2003. The boys were found, 23 days later, frozen in a pond near their home.
"I tried so hard," said Klinkhart, whose own son was about the same age as the boys. "I just felt like I had failed."
Klinkhart felt he was given a second chance one month later, when another missing persons case landed on his desk.
"I felt like I was on a mission, and I needed to find her," said Klinkhart. "If not for her family … maybe for me."
She was Bethany Correira, a beautiful 21-year-old woman who was raised in a log cabin built by her father Bill, deep in the woods near Mount McKinley. She was home schooled as a child, and later attended the small high school in her town, excelling in academics and sports.
Correira traveled the world, from her missionary work in Nepal to sailing to the remote Norfolk Islands. But in May 2003, she moved to Anchorage to pursue medical studies in college. Four days after Correria's move, her mother, Linda, arrived at her apartment to find the door unlocked and her daughter's purse, keys and cell phone inside. Bethany was nowhere to be found.
On May 4, police arrived on the scene and searched the apartment, but it was the recently burned duplex next door that caught Klinkhart's attention. Maybe an odd coincidence, maybe a clue, but for Klinkhart, the scene would lead him on a haunting journey to find the vivacious young woman and reclaim his passion for work.
"I thought I was looking for a lost girl and it turns out that I found more than just a lost girl," he said. "I found a part of me."
That burned duplex triggered a memory for Klinkhart; a memory of another girl and another fire.
On Easter weekend of 1981, Glen Klinkhart was 16 years old, taking a trip with his family to the Kenai Peninsula to visit his grandparents. His sister, Dawn, stayed home to work at her summer job. But Glen kept a secret for his sister: she planned to have a party that weekend.
"We got a phone call saying that there had been a fire at the house," said Klinkhart. "My sister -- we were informed that she was dead."
That Saturday, after other partygoers had said their goodbyes and headed home, one schoolmate returned to the Klinkhart home as Dawn slept. Nineteen-year-old Alan Chase sexually assaulted, beat, strangled and set fire to the high school senior. Although Chase was sentenced to 75 years in prison, and was recently denied parole, Klinkhart is still troubled by what he didn't tell his parents.
"I spent a lot of time trying to figure out, you know, what I could have done," he said. "Could I have saved her? Ah…a lot of guilt for a lot of years."
Klinkhart couldn't save his sister, but the detective was determined to save young Bethany Correira, who in a strange coincidence disappeared on his sister's birthday -- May 3.