No one has seen Ka'Rena McClerkin since she walked into a home in Kokomo four years ago.
Frank "Joey" Giza III was supposed to leave Bloomington for a music festival in Tennessee in 2009. His friends said he never arrived to the set.
Surveillance footage holds the last trace of Kevin Nguyen. The Fort Wayne man disappeared in 2018 somewhere between a bar and an Arby’s parking lot.
June 3 marks a decade since Lauren Spierer vanished in Bloomington, becoming perhaps the state's most well-known missing person case.
TIME's most mysterious disappearances: Spierer, 3 others have Indiana ties
The Indiana University student disappeared after turning a street corner heading back to her apartment.
National media and true crime bloggers have dissected every angle in Spierer’s case. She, Giza, McClerkin and Nguyen are listed among the roughly 1,180 people declared missing in Indiana, according to a running bulletin kept by Indiana State Police.
Most cases never make it to the national spotlight.
Story continues below document.
Frank Giza never showed up to a concert
Frank Giza should have spent the spring of 2009 couch-surfing and attending music festivals across the country. Those plans ended in Indiana.
The 25-year-old hitchhiked from Baltimore to Bloomington along I-70, guitar in hand, to stay with a friend before jetting off to another circuit of concerts in Tennessee and West Virginia.
He called his mother, Suzanne Giza, on his birthday: June 2.
“He sounded like my old Joey,” she told IndyStar. “He wasn’t high, wasn’t drunk.”
Suzanne Giza didn’t want the conversation to end, despite being in the supermarket. She recalled the times he dialed her in the past too drunk to understand. She felt afraid that if they stopped talking, she would never talk to her son as her “old Joey” again.
Weeks passed without another word from Frank Giza. His friends waiting in Tennessee and West Virginia said he never showed up to either concert.
IndyStar investigations: Read our reporters' latest series
Suzanne Giza instinctively knew something was wrong with her son. He hitchhiked to California at the age of 18 and made a point to check in with her, even if it meant calling from a pay phone.
She contacted Bloomington police. What she gathered then remains the same today: Frank Giza got into a fight with his friend and left Bloomington.
Suzanne Giza believes someone knows what happened to her son. She issued flyers with his picture at truck stops in 2011, two years after her son's disappearance. Visiting Indiana immediately after he went missing was financially, and emotionally, impossible.
Tips came through here and there, she said. The last one came in 2019 from a man who claimed to have seen Frank Giza at a truck stop in western Maryland. Surveillance footage in the area ultimately proved too grainy to make out a solid match.
At that point, it had been 10 years since her son disappeared. Suzanne Giza accepts what she calls her son's likely “demise.”
“In my mind, I feel that he is on the side of the road, in the woods, under leaves. That’s what I see,” she said. “I may not know until I’m gone.”
“I cry sometimes, but I have to get on with it,” she said. “ I can’t dwell on it. I’ve dwelled on it for years.”
Ka’Rena McClerkin’s family still looks
"I'll be OK, Mamaw," were the last words Ka'Rena McClerkin texted to her grandmother before she disappeared visiting a Kokomo house in 2016.
The 18-year-old wanted to get clean from drugs, and assured Gerry McClerkin that she'd be fine meeting up with a boy and partying for one last time at the home in the 1000 block of South Washington Street. It would be her last, Gerry McClerkin said.
Every day for two years, Gerry McClerkin and Ka’Rena’s father, James McClerkin, led search parties to find her, to no avail. They grabbed their shovels and dug any time a tip flowed in.
They still do four years later.
“I get phone calls randomly, and I leave, I go get the shovels,” James McClerkin said. “And we dig. We walk through rivers; we walk through lakes.”
Daily searches became weekly excursions. Their family may not know where Ka’Rena McClerkin is, James McClerkin said, but they “certainly know where she isn’t.”
The McClerkins feel they’re the last ones taking up the torch in Ka’Rena McClerkin's case, as though police and the Kokomo community have lost interest.
James McClerkin pooled the $75,000 he saved in his 401(k) as a reward fund.
Gerry McClerkin continues to organize searches on Facebook.
She reminds the small town about her granddaughter by waving signs across from the Kokomo Police Department that read “Ka’Rena McClerkin is still missing from Kokomo, Indiana since Oct. 11, 2016.”
She’ll stay until her last breath, Gerry McClerkin said, since no one else will. She’s plunged into sewers to find Ka’Rena McClerkin — with the Facebook posts to prove it. She’s walked miles into woods from Peru to Jerome. She and Jerry McClerkin have cracked holes in ice over lakes to see if Ka’Rena McClerkin’s body bobs up.
Three private investigators, bloodhounds to sniff out bodies and an expert team of divers have turned up no answers.
“I have beat myself up umpteen dozen times to find this girl,” Gerry McClerkin said. “I have begged; I have pleaded with people (to stand and hold signs).”
She sees the flood of news coverage surrounding the Delphi murders and wonders how she can’t find a single person to join her searches. She can’t help but think it’s because her granddaughter is a mixed-race girl who got caught up in the wrong crowd.
Gerry and James McClerkin led another search Saturday, May 22 at a park on East Carter Street. They didn’t find anything.
Kevin Nguyen ‘didn’t just vanish’
Two blocks stand between The Brass Rail bar and Kevin Nguyen's last-known location in 2018.
The 25-year-old spent a night of drinking at the Fort Wayne watering hole on Dec. 8 until bouncers kicked him out before 1 a.m.
He bought a slice from Big Apple Pizza food truck, according to his receipt, and texted his sister to pick him up. His mother arrived instead to bring him home, but Nguyen wasn’t there.
He hasn’t been seen or heard from since he texted his sister for a ride.
Nguyen’s family filed a missing person report with Fort Wayne police two days after he patronized the bar.
“He wasn’t the type that didn’t just come home,” Nguyen’s grandmother, Dee Campbell, told IndyStar.
After encouragement from Nguyen’s father, Campbell texted the 25-year-old after he disappeared to ask what he wanted for Christmas in hopes of spurring a response.
She didn’t hear back.
Pieces that traced the final parts of Nguyen’s night came in about a week after he disappeared.
Surveillance footage later obtained from an Arby’s around the corner from Brass Rail captured him in the fast food chain’s parking lot twice that night — once with his hoodie over his head and the next without his glasses and stumbling slightly at 2:42 a.m.
A Fort Wayne resident invested in the case found Nguyen’s broken glasses in the back of Brass Rail shortly after he went missing.
Aside from hearsay, the surveillance tapes, broken glasses and her grandson’s receipts for his bar tab and pizza, Campbell said she doesn’t know what happened to Nguyen that night. But someone does, she said.
“He didn’t just vanish. This is not sci-fi,” Campbell stressed.
Campbell said she walked the 0.1-mile route her grandson took that night to “get a feel” for what it looks like in the dark. She’s talked with employees at a gas station south of the bar and Arby’s to see if they knew Nguyen.
“I feel like we’re doing the legwork for this investigation,” she said.
She sticks posters up around Fort Wayne each December in hopes of stirring any leads. His case is one of two Indiana missing person cases listed by the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.
“Once we find Kevin, then we can find an answer at least if there was abuse that made its way to the bones,” she said. “I’ve reached the point finally that when I say those words, I don’t cry. Because if my grandson was still with us, unless he’s incapacitated with drugs, or kept hostage, Kevin would come home.”
If you are searching for a loved one gone missing in Indiana, tell us your story. Contact IndyStar's Sarah Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-503-7514.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Lauren Spierer is one of many: 3 untold stories of missing Hoosiers