Three years gone: Family of Karena McClerkin continues to seek closure after her 2016 disappearance

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karena mcclerkin

FINDING KARENA — Gerry McClerkin, right, remembers her granddaughter, the missing Karena McClerkin, on what would have been her 21st birthday. McClerkin had a birthday ceremony for Karena in Foster Park on Sept. 26. On Oct. 11, 2016, Karena will be missing for three years.

It’s been three years since a Kokomo woman disappeared, and her family intends to mark the anniversary of her disappearance right where she was last seen.

On Oct. 11, 2016, then 18-year-old Karena McClerkin was last seen walking in the 1000 block of South Washington Street. Three years to the day later, on Friday, her family will hold an event where those who gather will walk right over the Kokomo-woman’s last known whereabouts. The goal, they said, is to ensure she’s not forgotten as they hold out hope that someone, somewhere will tell them what happened to Karena.

“She is someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s aunt,” said James McClerkin, Karena’s father. “She is somebody … I need everybody to know who Karena is.”

For James, time hasn’t made that task any easier. Leads have come and gone. At one point private investigators stepped in to help him and Karena’s grandmother, Gerry McClerkin, track down new clues about what may have happened to the girl who would have celebrated her 21st birthday on Sept. 26. And, all the while, the Kokomo Police Department has kept the investigation into Karena’s disappearance open, at times bringing in cadaver dogs to search areas in Howard County. At one point a $50,000 reward was put out in an attempt to coax information out of the community — all to no avail.

Now, with the anniversary of Karena’s disappearance looming, her father has taken the extraordinary step of upping the reward, which once was offered by a group of private investigators who since have ceased their efforts in the case. So, James now is prepared to empty his 401K of the entirety of his savings, $75,000, to create a reward that leads to Karena’s whereabouts. The previous reward would have been awarded for information leading to Karena as well as an arrest, but now her father is dropping that stipulation, saying he just wants to find Karena.

“It’s just to keep her alive, keep it going, and keep information out there,” said James. “I’m just trying to get new details back in. Right now we don’t have anything … All it has to do is lead back to my daughter. It doesn’t have to lead to an arrest or anything, just my daughter, her body, or herself. Then they can have the cash.”

As the reward remains on the table, the remembrance walk for Karena is slated to be held between 5 and 6 p.m. on Friday. Gerry asked that those hoping to attend the walk will gather at the Dollar General at the intersection of Markland Avenue and Washington Street at 5 p.m. Then attendees will walk in the alley behind the nearby Little Caesars, where Gerry said Karena was last seen.

According to a Kokomo Police Department representative, Karena’s case remains active. Anyone with information relating to the case is encouraged to contact KPD at 765-457-1105.