Authorities continue search for missing Nome woman

Florence Okpealuk, 33, was first reported missing on Aug. 31
Officials are looking for the driver of this vehicle.
Officials are looking for the driver of this vehicle.(FBI Anchorage Field Office)
Published: Sep. 12, 2020 at 4:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the Federal Bureau of Investigation joins Nome law enforcement in the search for Florence Okpealuk, new leads have surfaced. Law enforcement officials have located the driver of a vehicle pictured in the Port vicinity on Aug. 30 between 7 and 10 a.m.

Authorities originally put a call out asking to speak with the driver as they believe this person might be able to recall information that could assist in the investigation. On Sunday, local law enforcement said they contacted the driver.

Okpealuk, 33, was reported missing on Aug. 31 and her disappearance has led to a community-wide search effort. At this time, several different law enforcement agencies have joined the search including the Nome Police Department, FBI, Alaska State Troopers, the Nome Volunteer Fire Department Search and Rescue Team, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Officials have contacted the driver of this vehicle, pictured on Aug. 30.
Officials have contacted the driver of this vehicle, pictured on Aug. 30.(FBI Anchorage Field Office)

Okpealuk was last seen on the shore of West Beach in Nome and is said to be 5 feet 2 inches tall, with dark brown hair. She weighs about 130 pounds.

Nome Deputy Chief of Police, Robert Pruckner, announced the FBI’s arrival Saturday saying the bureau will “support the Nome Police Department’s ongoing investigative efforts into the disappearance of Florence Okpealuk,” according to a release.

William Walton, Supervisory Special Agent for the Violent Crime Program at the Anchorage FBI field office, said Saturday that there does not appear to be any “ongoing threat to the community.”

“We are investigating the circumstances around Florence’s disappearance,” he said, “and we are assisting Nome with those inquiries.”

Walton said he encourages anyone who had contact with Okpealuk, no matter how brief, to contact Nome police.

The FBI Anchorage Field Office began providing technical assistance shortly after Okpealuk was reported missing, the release said, which also noted that the Nome Police Department made the request for additional help.

“The public is also encouraged to take part in upcoming community efforts,” the release from the FBI said. Another coordinated community search took place around noon on Saturday.

Along with the searches, the agencies continue to analyze closed-circuit TV footage and cell phone records. Community and family members are also being interviewed to gather information on Okpealuk’s disappearance.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the Nome Police Department at (907) 443-5262.

Editor’s note: Jennifer Summers, Beth Verge and Marlise Irby have contributed to this report.

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