SPOONER, Wis. (WCCO) — The wait for answers continues in the case of Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs, who has been missing since Oct. 15. For another family from the same area, the tragedy is all too real.
Sara Bushland was 15 years old when she disappeared 22 years ago.
Long before the press briefings and field searches in Barron, Wisconsin, questions surrounded a home 30 miles north in Spooner in 1996.
“It brings it all home,” Lesley Small said. “It’s the same feeling I get, then multiply it by 22 for 22 years.”
Small’s younger sister — Sara Bushland — got off her school bus on April 3 and has not been seen since.
“My mom called me quite frantic and mad and said Sara didn’t get off the bus and where is she?” Small recalled.
Sara Bushland’s parents were divorced. She was living with her mom, stepdad and two step-brothers at the time she went missing. Small calls it a troubled home, choosing to live with her dad.
“She didn’t really want to talk about what was happening inside that home. Later, with her diary I was able to get a better insight of that,” Small said.
Sara was reported missing that night. Still, it took the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office three years to search the Spooner property.
“She was classified as a runaway to start with, and even newspaper articles just asking her to come home were published,” Small said.
But Small said she doesn’t want to focus on what didn’t happen in the past, looking instead to the present and future. Her mom and stepdad died last year. She wants more resources dedicated to Sara’s case and doesn’t think her rocky childhood should hold them back.
“Every person that’s missing deserves that,” Small said.
Lesley keeps a Facebook page detailing new developments, still missing the little sister that seemingly vanished.
“I won’t give up,” Small said.
If you have information on Sara’s disappearance, call the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office at 715-468-4700, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.