SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — An 11-year-old girl goes missing as she walks to her home in Scranton.
Despite nearly 35 years, the mystery of her disappearance is still talked about in the Electric City. The name Jolene Lakey still evokes emotions for many people in Scranton. A young girl who simply vanished.
Her family tells the I-Team they still believe that they will find out what happened to Jolene and find the person responsible for taking her.
“Just living without knowing and it’s agony I can’t even describe. It’s horrible. It’s awful,” Jolene Lakey’s sister Justina Forsythe said.
Forsythe says she still feels the pain she did the day her 11-year-old sister Jolene vanished. It was the evening of August 26, 1986. Jolene had just visited her mother at the hospital and was walking back to the family home on North Washington Avenue when she vanished. Forsythe was 13 years old at the time.
“Trying to live your life without having any answers without anything at all flat out without knowing is emotionally brutal and devastating,” Forsythe said.
Forsythe says her sister was a very trusting girl and saw the world as a place of joy and happiness.
“She was this wonderful, charming, goofy, adorable kid who made everyone around her laugh,” Forsythe said.
And she often thinks about what she would say to her sister if she could talk to her again.
“What I want Jolene to know is that we love her. I want Jolene to know that when we were kids we didn’t know what could happen. We had no idea about the danger out there,” Forsythe said.
Efforts to find out what happened to Jolene are being kept alive by people like Pat O’Malley. The former Lackawanna County Commissioner posted a $5,000 reward several years ago for information that could solve this cold case. The poster has been on billboards in the past and will once again be posted in the coming weeks.
“This is probably the most scary thing that could possibly happen to a parent and no one should have to deal with this. So we are trying to find Jolene Lakey. It’s a long time ago but there needs to be closure for her family,” O’Malley said.
The effort to find answers in the Lakey case included an age progression photo showing what she might look like as of 2016. In the past, investigators named a person of interest in Lakey’s disappearance, former Scranton auto mechanic Frank Osellanie.
He was convicted of kidnapping another young girl in 1990, but had denied any involvement in the Lakey disappearance. The family believes that someone may still be out there that can solve this mystery.
“What I would say to someone who has information is you are the most powerful person in so many lives right now. You can give us the answers so we can try to keep moving forward,” Forsythe said.
Forsythe says her sister will always be an innocent child.
“Time passes without you. My sister is 11 and shall be 11 always,” Forsythe said.
Investigators say there really have not been any new leads in this case but point out that while the case may be cold, new information can change that in an instant.
The I-Team spoke to several retired investigators who say that they really tried to have Osellani open up about his possible involvement but he would either deny requests from detectives to even see him in prison or flatly denied any involvement.