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Police, Navy search woods for girl, 15

Oak Harbor police and Navy police directed a massive search of woods around Olympic View Elementary School Tuesday afternoon in hopes of finding clues to the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl.

Elaine A. Sepulveda went missing after she sneaked out of her house in the Navy’s Saratoga Heights housing somewhere between 1 a.m. to 2:45 a.m. Nov. 6, according to Oak Harbor Police Sgt. Jerry Baker.

“She could still be a runaway,” Baker said, “but the circumstances surrounding her disappearance are highly unusual. There’s reason for suspicion.”

Sepulveda, an Oak Harbor High School student, had no purse, no ID, no money, no change of clothing and no other personal items when she left. She hasn’t contacted anyone, not even her closest friends, since disappearing.

Baker said Sepulveda hadn’t been taking her prescription anti-depressant medication.

The last credible report of someone seeing Sepulveda, Baker said, was a neighbor who saw her outside her home at about 1 a.m.

Sepulveda’s mother, Mary Jimenez, has posted “missing” fliers with her daughter’s photograph and personal information all over the city. She said her daughter has never run away before and she doesn’t believe she ever would.

“It makes me very scared that she didn’t take anything with her,” she said.

Jimenez said the teenager went to a party Friday night but returned at about 11:45 p.m. Jimenez believes her daughter sneaked out of her room and met with an 18-year-old high school student behind the new youth center in Saratoga Heights housing.

According to Jimenez, the young man has changed his story four times about what happened that night. She said she heard a rumor that he was angry with her daughter.

Jimenez also said she’s “furious” at Navy security and Oak Harbor police for delaying the investigation. She claims she got the runaround from police and security over the weekend. Police told her to report the matter to base security, she said, and base security told her they couldn’t investigate outside Navy property.

“Nobody wanted to take responsibility,” she said. “The police were not cooperative.”

Baker, however, said he didn’t hear about the suspicious disappearance until Monday, at which time he immediately took over the investigation.

Tuesday, more than 100 volunteers from the Navy helped search the woods between Regatta Drive and base housing for any signs of the girl. Oak Harbor police led the search from Regatta Drive while special agents with Naval Criminal Investigative Service organized a search from within the Seaplane base.

Jimenez describes Elaine Sepulveda as a a Hispanic girl, four-feet, 11-inches tall, 115 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with any information can contact police at 911 or 360-679-5551 or her family at 679-3771. Elaine can leave a message for her parents if she is afraid to come home at 1-800-621-4000.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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