March 17, 2010 -- The family of the missing Washington mother Shantina Smiley fear that she may have asked for help from the wrong people, endangering herself and her young son, who have now been missing for nearly four days.
Smiley's fiance, Robb Simmons, also told "Good Morning America" today that she has had a problem with alchohol and had a relapse last week.
The woman and her son disappeared Saturday after a series of bizarre events in which she fell in a parking lot, bought a corn dog and left it behind, knocked on a stranger's door for directions and then went in the opposite direction.
Her van was found partially submerged at the end of a narrow dirt road that was difficult for police to find, even in the day time.
"[Smiley] is too trusting," said Dana Carver, the aunt of 8-year-old Azriel Carver who vanished with his mom. "She is one of those girls who wears her heart on her sleeve."
"Who knocks on the door of a complete stranger at 10 p.m.?" asked Carver. "And who in their right mind goes down a dirt road at night. It's just too weird. You just don't do that in 2010."
"It could be possible that the wrong person picked her up," she said.
Authorities announced today that they had widened the search to the areas surrounding the body of water where Smiley's car was found.
Police said they had made no progress in unraveling the mystery of Smiley and her son's disappearance.
"It's a real stumper right now," Lt. Chris Mealy of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office said.
The worries of Smiley's fiance are fueled by concerns that the recovering alcoholic has slid back into addiction just days before she vanished on her way to visit her stepfather.
"I don't know how I'm able to keep going right now," Simmons told "Good Morning America" today.
Simmons said he last talked to Smiley Saturday afternoon before she and her son set out for her stepfather's home, about two hours away.
"She said she's getting ready to hit the road and I said 'Okay I'll see you on the road,'" Simmons said. He expected to catch with them so they could drive down together, but he never saw them again.
"I'm missing half my family right now," Simmons said. "It's an empty, scary dark place."
Simmons tried to remain hopeful as he addressed a message to Smiley. "I just want you home, baby. I want you and Azriel home. Everybody's hurting. We've got a lot of years left and a lot of plans," he said.
Jay Carver, the father of the missing boy, arrived in Seattle from his home in New York Tuesday to help look for his son and his former partner.
Carver told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV that he has been feeling "very helpless."
"I'm going to look around, and probably spend a lot of time looking in the woods. I know there's been a lot of people looking already," he said. "I'm going to see what they've already unturned and uncovered, and possibly, hopefully, maybe find him."
Smiley and Azriel haven't been seen since around 10 p.m. on Saturday when the two stopped at an Olympia, Wash., home to ask for directions.
"We could be the last people to have seen her. Like, ever," resident Taylor Williams said. "I really hope that's not the case."
Williams said Smiley didn't appear to be drunk or otherwise impaired, but seemed nervous and looked as if she'd been crying. She told the family she'd left the highway to find her son a bathroom.
They were recorded on a nearby store surveillance camera around 10:30 p.m. That video capped off an evening of strange behavior, including a late-night stop to buy a corn-dog that was paid for, but left on the counter, and a fall in a market parking lot.
When she was last seen, Smiley got directions to the highway from an elderly couple, and then headed in the wrong direction.
Smiley's actions seem to suggest she was disoriented as she headed farther and farther from where she was supposed to be.
Her minivan, with the doors open and no one inside, was pulled from the water on a Puget Sound beach Sunday.
Police wouldn't comment on Smiley's reported troubles with alcohol addiction. On Tuesday Mealy told ABC News, "This woman had no enemies, no history of domestic abuse and no spousal abuse. From all indications she was a very stable woman, a very loving woman."
Mealy was baffled how Smiley's car ended up in a pond at the end of a tiny road through the woods.
"I couldn't even find the access road, and it was light out," Mealy said. "You really have to know where it is. It's the kind of road you don't want to take because it's so steep and narrow."
"It's very rare for someone who doesn't know the area to wind up where her van wound up," Mealy said.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Shantina Smiley and Her Son
Smiley and Azriel set out around 5 p.m. from their home in Silverlake, Wash., to Smiley's stepfather's home 120 miles south in Castlerock, Wash.
Investigators found Smiley's wallet, ID card and credit card in the van, but no purse. There were also no overnight bags in the van, despite the fact that Smiley and her son were planning to go away for the weekend.
"We don't have a suspect because we don't know if it's a crime," said Mealy. "Our options are open. We're not saying it's foul play and we're not saying it's not, and we're not saying she didn't voluntary leave."
"We can't explain what the hell she was doing out there, if she was even out there at all," the lieutenant said.
Divers searched the waters for a second day Tuesday, but found nothing.
Asked whether it's possible that they got lost in the nearby woods, Mealy said that there are too many houses with porch lights on for them to not have been able to get help.
"I don't have any freaking clue what happened."
Almost two hours after she left her home for the trip to Castlerock, Smiley called Simmons, who was supposed to be rendez-vous with them in Castlerock. Simmons said that during the phone call Smiley asked him to bring her cellphone because she had accidently left it behind. Smiley also complained about the heavy traffic in the area, which Mealy says is common for the time of day.
Her bizarre journey is documented by a series of surveillance cameras. Smiley and her son were spotted just before 8 p.m. at a small mom and pop shop, the Handy Pantry Food Store in Olympia where surveillance video captures them making a purchase.
At 9:08 p.m. Smiley and her son pull into the Martin Way Diner where they ordered a corn dog to go. Surveillance video from the diner caught Smiley leaving the restaurant after paying, tripping and falling in the parking lot, and then getting up and driving away with her son.
They never returned for the corn dog.
Shantina Smiley Drove in the Opposite Direction of the Highway
Mealy said surveillance video also recorded Smiley and her son on the northwest side of Olympia peering into the windows of the Gull Harbor Market at 9:55 p.m., which was closed.
Smiley and her son keep driving, but away from the freeway. At 10 p.m. Smiley knocked on the door of a private residence where an elderly couple invited her and her son in and allowed Smiley to use the phone.
"The elderly couple gives the kid a piece of pizza, and Smiley calls her grandfather and says that these people are going to give her directions and that she got lost, but will be on her way," said Mealy.
Mealy also said that Smiley told her grandfather that she had been in an accident, but that authorities are not sure if she is talking about falling in the diner parking lot or another accident that has not yet been discovered.
The directions the couple gave Smiley to get back to the freeway are "not at all complicated," according to Mealy, who said the freeway is very well lit and would have been hard to miss.
Instead of taking the couple's directions, Mealy goes the opposite direction, again being recorded on the surveillance camera of the closed market.
"It would be obvious with anyone with any sense, but then again I don't know what her state of mind is, that you weren't heading toward the freeway," said Mealy.
"Unfortunately the next thing we know is that we're recovering her van from a private beach at 11:15 a.m. the next day," he said.