law enforcement

Fate of Missing Glendale Woman Mystifies Mother, Friends, Police

It is almost unimaginable: the anguish of a mother whose daughter has disappeared, with police investigators seemingly stymied in determining what became of her.

"I gotta do something as a mom," said the mother of Elaine Park, the Glendale 20-year-old who disappeared January 28.  To further the search, the mother and friends have set up a Facebook page and a GoFundMe page, and gone door to door seeking information.

Park's car was found February 2 in Malibu, parked on the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway at Corral Beach -- her keys, cellphone, make-up and money inside -- but no sign of her. Law enforcement brought in search and rescue teams and a bloodhound, but without success.

So it was that Park's mother -- who asked her first name not be used-- returned Thursday to Corral Beach armed with flyers to post. She reached out to visitors, nearby residents and shopkeepers -- not so much out of fear police had missed something, but more out of sense of personal duty, that with enough effort she could find someone who could help unravel the dreadful mystery.

Investigators have learned that after Elaine left her mother's home on that last Friday in January, she met with a former boyfriend and went to his family's Calabasas compound, which has both a main house and a guest house.

Before dawn the next morning, security camera video obtained by police shows Park left the property "on her own," said Glendale Police Sgt. Robert William.

Five days later, a Sheriff's patrol deputy noticed her unattended Honda Civic, ran the plate, and learned of the missing person connection.

The car was transported to police headquarters for detailed forensic examination. There was no evidence of a struggle, but it could not be determined for certain whether Park had driven the car to Malibu, or someone else, nor whether she was in the car when it arrived.

On her mission, Ms. Park was joined by two of her daughter's friends and two staffers from the Korea Times newspaper.

"I'm just hoping somebody has information they can share," said Emily Limon, who met Elaine while both were students at Crescenta Valley High School.

"It's just so strange," said friend Sadie Gross. "I don't see her coming here at 7 or 6 or 5 in the morning."

With a fondness for fashion and pop culture, Elaine has distinctive tattoos on her arms: a cow skull, moth, and rose left arm, and a flower-adorned dagger on her right. She's described as 5-feet 6-inches tall, 125 pounds, with blonde tips on her long brown hair.

Park was enrolled at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, but had stopped attending classes this semester, and had also been laid off from her job at a restaurant, her mother said.

Whether Elaine may have decided to go away for awhile -- and something happened -- has not been ruled out. Home life had been difficult in the years since her parents divorced, the mother acknowledged, and Elaine suffered from bouts of depression.

So desperate to find her daughter, her mother candidly acknowledged second-guessing herself and wondering if she could have prevented whatever happened by putting more effort into building a stronger relationship with her daughter.

Speaking with NBC4 at Corral Beach Thursday, she suddenly turned to the camera and spoke directly to her daughter.

"Elaine, if you're out there, please come home...please give me a second chance to mend our relationship," she said. 

With that, she went back to the task of searching for help, planning a trip to nearby Pepperdine University to check with students, while Limon and Gross headed to one of their missing friend's favorite hangouts -- the Venice Boardwalk-- on the chance she somehow made it there.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

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