Florence Okpealuk, a 33-year-old resident of Nome, Alaska, remains missing. She was last spotted at West Beach, a popular gathering spot in the town.
During Dateline's recent visit to Nome for an upcoming episode, we met Blaire Okpealuk, Florence's elder sister. Blaire, employed at the hotel we stayed at, shared the harrowing story of Florence's mysterious disappearance. As our crew delved deeper into the circumstances, we found Florence's story echoed throughout the town with missing posters displayed prominently.
It's been over 24 months since Florence's disappearance, and the mystery still hangs heavily over the Okpealuk family. "Our family has been severely affected. It's a void. Especially for her daughter, growing up without her mother," said a tearful Blaire.
On the afternoon of August 31, 2020, Florence, fondly known as "Flo" by friends and "Baby Florry" by family, was last seen. Her sudden silence, especially not answering calls, alarmed her sisters. Local authorities confirmed she was reported missing later that evening.
Born in the Alaska Native village of Wales, situated about 100 miles from Nome, Florence belonged to the Inupiaq community. She was the fifth child among six siblings. With a deep interest in traditional lifestyles, Florence was especially close to her sister Alexandria, who recalled Florence’s enthusiasm for traditional practices.
In 2013, Florence shifted to Nome, hoping for a better life for her soon-to-be-born daughter, especially in terms of health and education. She took up a position at Norton Sound Health Corporation, reflecting her innate desire to serve others. However, her time in Nome was not without challenges. Blaire revealed that Florence occasionally grappled with alcohol issues.
Two days prior to her disappearance, Blaire recollects a disagreement they had over Florence's drinking habits. Their last conversation, now a regretful memory for Blaire, revolved around this.
Post her disappearance, the local community and her family launched extensive search missions. Front Street's bars, where Florence was known to frequent, were the primary focus. Blaire even heard she might have gone to West Beach with a gold miner, a place where miners often set up camp.
In the wake of her disappearance, the local police, with the assistance of various state agencies and the FBI, have led comprehensive searches across Nome, using technology and trained search teams. Despite the efforts, Florence remains untraceable.
Known for her straightforward nature, Florence was the backbone of her family, always putting others first. She was also an exceptional cook and mother, deeply rooted in her Native Alaskan heritage, often sharing these traditions with her daughter. Today, her daughter, now nine, resides with her father, but the memories of Florence remain vibrant.
Throughout the investigation, numerous agencies have employed different means, from underwater submarines to helicopters, to locate Florence. Yet, her whereabouts remain unknown.
Alexandria shares, "Though it's daunting to think of what might have befallen her, I wish for a dignified farewell. And if someone harmed her, they must face justice."
Florence stands at 5’2” and weighs 142 lbs., with distinct black hair and eyes. Any leads about Florence should be reported to the Nome Police Department at 907-443-5262, citing the case number 20-010717.