North Idaho

Family of Rathdrum woman, missing seven years, continue search

RATHDRUM, Idaho - The family of a Rathdrum woman missing for more than seven years is hoping to breathe new life into her case.

Deborah Sykes vanished in February 2005. Police have chased down tip after tip, but could never find her, but her father is not giving up.

"I believe something has happened to her," Sykes' father, Bill Gilcrist, said.

She was last seen in February of 2005 in her home on Winchester Street. She was 38 and her wedding ring and purse were left behind.

Her father says before she disappeared Deborah was at the bars. Sometimes she wouldn't come home for a day or so but in 2005 she just vanished without a trace.

Missing woman Deborah Sykes

"She's always stayed in contact with me even if we were arguing over something," Gilcrist said.

Gilcrist has put up flyers in Montana, all over Idaho and taken pages and pages of notes, having interviewed people who were with Debbie around the time just before she disappeared.

Just like the police he's still searching for answers. Rathdrum Police Chief Kevin Fuhr told the Coeur d'Alene Press that the case is intriguing because Sykes left a husband and a son behind, along with all her belongings. He said there was no indication of strained family relationships.

"There is something that went on we just don't know what it is," Detective William Ray with the Rathdrum Police Department said. Ray is the third investigator to take on the case.

"I've checked with the social security offices, I've checked with IRS, with all these different types of sources and nothing has come up," he added.

The police have gone as far as Montana in their search for Deborah. The last big tip came a few years ago, from an anonymous source saying she was living in Airway Heights.

That didn't pan out and to this day police don't know what happened.

Before Sykes went missing she allegedly wrote checks that bounced. A warrant was issued for insufficient funds but then she disappeared.

"It's been seven years now, no leads or anything. I'm going to have to say no definitely not hiding because of her warrant or bad checks," Gilcrist said.

"That would be pretty stressful but I can't imagine a person leaving everything you know here in town for a check case like that," Det. Ray said.

Police and family alike have dealt with false sightings and tips that lead nowhere over the years.  Police say her husband was questioned but is not a suspect.  Now they're hoping the public can help.

"It's something you don't give up. Just keep going," Gilcrist said.

Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest is offering a $500 reward for information her disappearance while her family is also offering up an undisclosed amount.

Sykes is described as white and 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing about 125 pounds with brown hair, hazel eyes and discolored teeth.