Alaska Community Fears Fate of Missing Mom

Kathleen McBroom has been missing since October, her truck found on the road.

ByABC News
November 12, 2008, 4:00 PM

Nov. 12, 2008— -- Along the Seward Highway, between the towering cliffs of exposed rock and the fast-icing waters of Turnagain Arm, an abandoned pickup found last month looked to be a promising lead in the search for a woman who vanished on her way towork.

But inside the green 1996 GMC, found some six miles below McHugh Creek on Oct. 31, the belongings of Sheila Kathleen McBroom, 40, remained untouched. There were no signs of foul play, nothing wrong with the car suggesting mechanical malfunction, no suicide note.

In the days since the discovery, not a single person has reported seeing McBroom.

A wife and mother, McBroom, who went by Kathleen, was supposedly heading for work the Monday morning she vanished. Nobody is quite sure why she was on the highway.

"My very first thought was that she needed some time away, that maybe she was just going to cool off somewhere, but I've got this gut feeling that something bad has happened," said Sue Rissel, 28, a friend of McBroom's who knew her online.

"The more we find out, the more concerned I am, because it's not like her to be gone that long."

In the days before she disappeared, one of McBroom's teenage daughters returned after spending more than a year out of state, and McBroom appeared to be thrilled about the reunion in a personal blog entry dated Oct. 26.

"was sweet to hug my girl again," she wrote. "really nice to have everybody home at home right now. was so strange (good) to have all of us around the dinner table last night. the small and simple things matter more."

But McBroom was also stressing about her job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Elmendorf Air Force Base, said Bishop Lance Nelson, who supervises McBroom's ward at the Church of Jesus Christof Latter Day Saints.

McBroom had gotten renewed interest in the church in recent years and had taught primary school there, Nelson said. He called her a loving mother and said her abrupt disappearance has shocked those who knew her, especially her family.

"I think they've found it really difficult. They're going through different stages, I think, of grief and concern," Nelson said. "The worst thing is the uncertainty, just not knowing. Ithink that's been pretty hard on them."