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Parents find closure

Elaine Sepulveda’s parents stood before the press, after the preliminary court hearing of 18-year-old James Sanders, and tried to compose themselves enough to make a public statement on the ordeal they have gone through since Elaine’s disappearance in November.

“On behalf of our family, we would like to thank everyone who has helped during this time,” said Mary Jimenez, Elaine’s mother. “Thanks to all those who have put up fliers - donated their time to help us out, and just offered in other areas of support and continued to keep us in their prayers.”

As Mary spoke, her husband Juan Jimenez, Elaine’s stepfather since she was three, stood behind her for support and comfort. On her side stood Elaine’s sister Angela Sepulveda, 17. With a pause, Jimenez continued.

“Thanks to all of you that were willing to donate your time this weekend, to come on out and help us in our time of need,” she said, referring to the planning and organization of a three day search involving national search organizations and local volunteers. “We couldn’t have brought Elaine home without the help of all the people that opened their hearts to our family.”

With tears, she continued and thanked the Mickelsen family for their love and support during the past few months, and keeping them hopeful and pushing to never give up, even when they felt all hope was lost.

She thanked those who came out with the Laura Recovery Center and the Klaas Kid’s Foundation for their help, support and willingness to come out to Whidbey Island to lead a search. She said she feels their presence made a huge impact on this week’s outcome.

She paused again, still trying to control her voice.

“We would like to thank the Oak Harbor Police Department for never giving up,” she said. “And say ‘thank you’ to the media, who kept our little girl’s picture out there.”

Strength gave way to tears, and Sysbie Mickelsen walked up to the podium and added her comfort to that of Juan and Angela’s, so Jimenez could continue.

“Now that we have our Elaine home, we can put her to rest properly.” she said, crying. “We know in our hearts she is with our Lord Jesus Christ .... What I know is that she has come home. Now, we can have closure.”

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