Anchorage, AK

27 years ago, a woman went to a festival on a first date. She never came home. What happened to Erin Gilbert?

Fatim Hemraj
Erin Marie GilbertThe Vanished

Erin Gilbert lived in Anchorage, Alaska with her sister Stephanie, her husband, and their two young children. The 24-year-old relocated from Baltimore. She quickly found work as a nanny and planned to attend beauty school. Erin was a social butterfly and she was never afraid to speak her mind.

Since Erin was new to Anchorage she decided to go to Chilkoot Charlie’s, a local bar, to meet people and hopefully, make new connections. While there, Erin met a man named David and gave him her phone number.

A few days later, David gave Erin a call and asked her to be his date to the Girdwood Forest Fair, a popular annual celebration with food trucks, games, and live music an hour's drive away in Girdwood, Alaska.
Girdwood Forest FairAnchorage

David picked Erin up on July 1, 1995.

Early the next morning, Stephanie received a bizarre call from David. He told Stephanie he couldn’t find Erin and asked whether she had made it home.

Stephanie rushed to Erin’s bedroom and realized her bed hadn’t been slept in. Panicked, she put her children in the car and drove to the fair.

When Stephanie arrived, she ran into David. He was eating a hotdog and enjoying the festivities, seemingly unbothered that his date, who didn’t have a cellphone or her own car, had apparently vanished without a trace.

Unable to find Erin, Stephanie called 911 and reported her sister missing.

Erin was seen at the beer garden at 6 pm by some of David’s friends, who left soon after to attend a dinner party. Other witnesses saw Erin and David walking toward the parking lot sometime between 6 and 6:45 pm.

It’s unclear exactly what took place after that last sighting.

David told investigators he found his car battery dead after having accidentally left the headlights on. He told Erin he had a friend who lived nearby and asked her to wait by the car while he went to retrieve jumper cables. When he returned two hours later, Erin was gone.

David claimed he was unable to find his friend’s home. Conveniently, his car was now working. He drove around searching for Erin but couldn’t find her. Assuming she found another ride home, he decided to stay and enjoy himself.

Helicopters and cadaver dogs were deployed but there was no trace of Erin. Nearly 27 years later, her whereabouts remain a mystery.

David couldn’t explain why he simply didn’t ask another partygoer for help despite a full parking lot or why they were leaving the 2-day fair only two hours after their arrival. He hired a lawyer and refused to take a polygraph.
Erin Marie GilbertReddit

Erin was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, a black and white striped shirt, black jeans, and brown mountain boots. If alive, she would be 51 today.

A $35,000 reward is available for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Erin Gilbert’s disappearance. Contact Alaska State Troopers at 907-428-7200.

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Speaking up since I was in the womb.


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