A small bunch of balloons could be seen floating through the brisk fall air Sunday evening at the Katy Depot, and it was all in hopes to remind people the search isn’t over for Dana Bruce.
Today marks the eight-year anniversary of the disappearance of Sedalian Dana Bruce, who went missing Oct. 4, 2008. Family and close friends gathered Sunday evening for a balloon release that wasn’t just to honor Bruce, but to hopefully encourage someone to come forward with information.
It’s been a few years since the last balloon release was hosted in Bruce’s honor. Janet Uplinger, of California, Missouri, the grandmother of Bruce’s two children, Destany Dotson, 9, and Dylan Dotson, 11, told the Democrat it was nice to be able to come together for Bruce again.
“We’re hoping if people see this on the social media that somebody might come forward,” Uplinger said. “Somebody might say something. Somebody saw something, they just won’t say anything. … People have been calling (the Sedalia Police Department), telling them this or that, but nothing ever pans out, they can’t get enough evidence, or whatever’s told to them is not true.”
Event organizer Amber Ward, who is Destany and Dylan’s aunt, echoed that sentiment.
“We’re really trying to get people talking again,” she said. “We hope someone has information. … It’s still fresh for all of us. We deal with it every day. It’s hard every day.”
Dylan was 4 when his mom went missing, Destany only 2. When Bruce went missing, she was 24. Her 31st birthday was July 10. For Uplinger, Bruce’s disappearance still feels “like it was yesterday.” Dylan and Destany spent the evening playing with friends and cousins on the Depot lawn, but as the event came to a close Destany got emotional when a family friend hugged her goodbye. When talking with the Democrat, she said she misses her mom.
“They’re doing really well, they have counselors. They’re doing really well for the most part,” Uplinger said of the children. “They have questions and I answer them the best way that I can, but first and foremost I want them to be kids, I want them to grow up and have that kid life. When they want to talk about it, we talk about it … but I want them to be kids.”
Everyone at the balloon release wrote their own special message to Bruce, many reading “I miss you” or “We love you.” Dylan wrote “Hi mom it’s Dylan.” Destany wrote “Mom come home to your family. Love, Destany,” surrounded by a heart.
As everyone got ready to release their balloons, Ward asked if anyone wanted to say a few words. One person shouted “Come home Dana,” and with that simple statement everyone let go of their ribbons.
According to an Endangered Missing Adult flier from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Bruce was last seen at 11:45 p.m. Oct. 4, 2008, at the home of her children’s babysitter in Sedalia. She had been seen earlier that night at former nightclub Malone’s in Sedalia. The flier states foul play is suspected in her disappearance.
SPD Detective Travis St. Cyr is assigned to handle any new tips that come in regarding Bruce’s disappearance. Despite how long it’s been since she went missing, he said SPD still receives calls.
“We do still get some new ones that come in. One recently took me to Springfield (a few months ago) to talk to people,” he said. “We are still getting some, and we follow up on every one that comes in. We haven’t gotten anything solid, still dead ends.”
He added that there are a couple more tips that he is “still following up on and looking into.”
Bruce is described as a 5’2” white female with auburn hair and hazel eyes, weighing 135 pounds. She has a tattoo on her upper left arm of a teddy bear with “Dylan” and she has pierced ears.
The case remains open, and St. Cyr encouraged anyone with any information about Bruce to call SPD at 660-826-8100.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.