Samantha Sayers was last seen Aug. 1, 2018, while on a solo day-hike up Vesper Peak in the North Cascades.
It was easy for fellow hikers to remember the young woman with the bald, tattooed head and the wide, easy smile. One saw her eating a sandwich. Another saw her descending the south side of summit.
But Sayers, 28, never made it home to her Belltown apartment.
For 22 days, more than a dozen agencies and countless volunteers scoured the mountain’s steep, jagged terrain. Helicopters clattered overhead. King County Search and Rescue conducted an air search using thermal imaging cameras. Three K-9 teams searched for her scent. Nothing more was found than a possible boot print.
On Aug. 23, 2018, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search after spending thousands of hours on Vesper.
But Sayers’ mother, Lisa, refuses to give up hope that her daughter is alive. Somewhere.
“We’re not searching the mountain,” Lisa Sayers said Wednesday from her home in Pennsylvania. “We don’t think she stayed on the mountain.”
The family has hired a team of investigators that has asked Lisa Sayers not share anything about what, if anything, they have gleaned.
“I’m not going to say who we’re working with,” she said. “But we have not stopped. We still believe she is alive.”
Earlier this month, her boyfriend, Kevin Dares, held a service in her memory on the peak where she disappeared — and where officials determined there were “4 possibilities for mishap,” all involving slips into an icy crevasse or into Vesper Lake.
The service included the installation of an iron cross with a hammered-metal oval inscribed with Sayers’ name and birth date and the title “Queen of the Stars.”
In a long post on Facebook, Dares thanked the 15 people who attended — some who flew in to remember their friend.
Dares went on to describe how the two met on Tinder in 2015, and about Sayers’ excitement about her work as a “properties artisan” at Seattle Rep, and how driven she was in everything she did: Cleaning Airbnbs, flipping houses, hiking and traveling.
And he wrote about how hard people tried to find her, to no avail.
“As we choose life, adjust to new realities and consciously put one foot in front of the other,” Dares wrote, “we can also recognize that we never move on. We will forever carry Samantha within us and through every step we take.”
Lisa Sayers didn’t participate in the Vesper Peak service, and has had no contact with Dares.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “We don’t care what the people there are doing.”
In June, Lisa Sayers’ cancer returned after 11 years of being in remission. Through six chemotherapy treatments — and facing two more — she hasn’t lost the determination to find her daughter.
“Just know that we won’t stop until we have our daughter home or we have DNA that will tell us otherwise,” she said. “People tell me, ‘You just need to have a funeral and move on,’ but I say ‘No, we don’t.’ “
“Because there is truth out there. And we’re going to get it.”