Sixteen years after the disappearance of Lori Ceci Bova, family and friends refuse to give up the search.
Lori was only 26 years old when she disappeared. She was last seen leaving the Red Lobster restaurant in Lakewood with her husband, Tyrone Bova, on June 7, 1997. They had gone for dinner with Lori's sister and her sister's husband that night.
According to reports, around 2 a.m. on June 8, Lori went outside of her home on New York Avenue in Jamestown to smoke a cigarette, following an argument with Tyrone Bova. More than nine hours later, Sgt. Investigator Paul Gustafson of the Lakewood-Busti Police Department took the initial report of Lori's disappearance from Tyrone Bova.
Lori Ceci Bova
Sixteen years later, family and friends are still actively seeking answers from that fateful night.
"We have been waiting 16 years," said Amy Cleveland, Lori's friend and the spokesperson for the family. "That's a long time not to know. It's the not knowing what happened. We love her, we miss her. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. She's always in our hearts."
A recent event in Cleveland, Ohio, has given family, friends and investigators alike a new sense of hope when it comes to finding Lori. On May 6, three women, some of whom had been missing for as long as 10 years, were found alive after being held captive.
"To have an outcome of that nature would be very encouraging."
"(Hearing about the case in Ohio) doesn't make (Lori's disappearance) worse," Cleveland said. "I can tell you that I was so happy for those girls. I know they're going to be scarred, but I was so happy for those girls that they could be reunited with their families. I would want nothing more than for that to happen with Lori. We pray every day. That was really something. And, you know, you hear that, my God, you never know. Maybe."
The case gives Gustafson a sense of hope as well when it comes to Lori. He said he has always been hopeful to find closure for her family and friends.
"We certainly would like to hope that we would have an outcome of that nature in this investigation as well," Gustafson said. "It certainly crossed my mind, as I'm sure it did any investigator across the country with an open missing persons case of this nature. To have an outcome of that nature would be very encouraging, as I'm sure the family would agree. It's something I thought about at the time that story developed in Cleveland."
The file 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. Although he said he is disappointed with the lack of cooperation the department has seen from Tyrone Bova over the last 16 years, he is still hopeful someone will come forward with the missing puzzle pieces to help solve the case.
"I am confident that there are those individuals that hold information that would certainly lead us to Lori's whereabouts within our community," Gustafson said. "As always, I urge anyone with information, whether anonymous or not, to contact me, as little as they feel that information may be. It may be just that small piece of information that leads this to where we're at. We have many pieces to this puzzle; I'm just missing a few pieces."
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 Gustafson at 763-9563.
"I just still want to keep it alive," Cleveland said. "I realize it has been 16 years. It's been a very long time, but to us, it's like yesterday. It's not something that goes away. For us, it's every day. We just want to keep it alive. I would like for people to pray for us, for the family, and for Lori, and not to forget. She was part of this community, too."