After 15 years, Lori Ceci Bova is still just as much a presence in her family and friend's minds as she was on June 8, 1997, the day that she went missing.
"For us it's an everyday thing," said Amy Cleveland, Lori's friend and the spokesperson for the family. "We don't forget. It's in the front of our minds every single day. It's difficult for us and we want everybody to remember that she's still missing and that the family still has questions."
Ms. Cleveland said that these 15 years that she and the family have been without Lori is time that they will never get back.
Lori Ceci Bova
"We always have hopes that someone will come forward with some information that will help," said Cleveland.
She still displays the poster in her car window in the hopes that someone will see it and be able to give some sort of information that can give the family closure.
"I can't explain it, I just have to have the poster there. It still helps when people see it. If they forgot about Lori, they'll see that and it will be one more person that remembers her."
Lori, who was only 26 years old when she disappeared, was last seen leaving the Red Lobster restaurant in Lakewood with her husband, Tyrone Bova, on June 7, 1997. They had gone out for dinner with her sister and her sister's husband that night. According to reports, around 2 a.m., she went outside of her home on New York Avenue to smoke a cigarette after she had been involved in an argument with her husband. A little more than nine hours later, Sgt. Investigator Paul Gustafson of the Lakewood-Busti Police Department took the initial report that Lori was missing from her husband.
"There have certainly been a lot of frustrating moments throughout the investigation," said Gustafson. "Over that 15-year period we've taken multiple leads and spoken to multiple individuals. At times we've thought that we were very close to locating the information that was needed. We still actively have it as an open missing persons investigation."
The file that Gustafson has built on Lori Ceci Bova's case is massive, taking up a large portion of the evidence room at the Lakewood-Busti Police Station. Still, Gustafson said that he's confident that people in the community have the information that is needed to find her, which has been his goal since day one of this investigation. He makes it a point to follow up on each and every phone call related to the case to see what might develop from them. The last 15 years have provided the police with opportunities to conduct follow-up interviews, contact people that have returned to the area since the disappearance and continue to search for Lori.
"I want to be able to provide this family with closure. With any case I hope that I'm able to solve it and bring closure to the victims involved. We have many pieces to this puzzle and we're just missing a few that would help us solve this case," he said.
A $50,000 reward is still available for information leading to a conviction. Anyone with information about the case, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is asked to call Sgt. Investigator Paul Gustafson with the Lakewood-Busti Police Department at 763-9563. Calls can be anonymous.