Ste. Gen. teen still missing; authorities perplexed
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Four days of searching have turned up virtually no clues in the disappearance of a "happy, goofy" teenager missing since a party near an eastern Missouri lake early Saturday, relatives and authorities said Tuesday.
Relatives of Wade Lurk, 17, of Ste. Genevieve, believe he may have been kidnapped, his aunt, Dena Lurk Mullen, said.
Hundreds of volunteers have joined the Missouri Highway Patrol and Ste. Genevieve County sheriff's deputies in searching for Lurk, a senior at Valle High School. The FBI is also assisting.
"He's vanished," Mullen said. "He's just such a conscientious kid. For him not to call his mother ... We have reason to think somebody's got him and has possibly left the area."
Even more perplexing is the fact that Lurk's car, a white 1990 Nissan Stanza, has also vanished.
"I've never been involved in anything like this," Sheriff Gary Stolzer said. "We have no clues. We need help. It's a nightmare."
Lurk was last seen early Saturday with about 40 other teenagers at the Goose Creek lake development, about 50 miles south of St. Louis.
A guard at the development thought he saw Lurk's car leave around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, but wasn't certain if it was the right car or if Lurk was driving, the sheriff's department said. Friends and relatives became worried later Saturday when he failed to show up to help some friends move, then didn't show up for lawn-mowing jobs.
There was drinking at the party. Stolzer said it was possible Lurk could have been involved in an accident in the rural area. But repeated searches, including those assisted by helicopters, have turned up nothing.
Suicide is unlikely, Mullen said. No note was found, Lurk was not depressed and had not been acting strangely.
Authorities also are all but certain Lurk did not run away.
"He's got a savings account with money in it -- it's all there," Stolzer said. "He didn't pack any clothes. It's your Leave-it-to-Beaver, perfect, family."
Lurk is scheduled to graduate in May. He played football and basketball at Valle, was an A-student, even went to Boy's State.
The family -- Lurk, his parents and two younger brothers -- was planning to leave for a cruise Friday, Mullen said. That's now on hold.
"I don't think his dad has slept yet," Mullen said. "He just searches and searches, even after they call off the search party for the night."
The missing Nissan has a license plate number 720WCC. Anyone with information on Wade Lurk is asked to call the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff's Department, 573-883-5820.