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Closs escape bittersweet for families of other missing people

At left: Roseanna Forcum, circa 1998, of Roseanna Forcum. It's been 18 years since two young women were last seen at a party in St. Paul, and their families and law enforcement are still looking for answers about what happened to them. Roseanna Forcum, 15, was from St. Cloud and April Geyer, 21, was from the Milaca area. The photo of Roseanna Forcum on the right, with shorter hair, has been age progressed to 23 years old. Courtesy of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.1 / 2
Hang Lee is shown in a photo circa 1993. The 17-year-old from St. Paul was last seen Jan. 15, 1993, getting into a car with a friend and several passengers. The friend returned home but Hang Lee, at the time a senior at Highland Park High School and a waitress at a local restaurant, has not been heard from since. Submitted photo2 / 2

ST. PAUL — When an abducted 13-year-old girl escaped to safety in Wisconsin, relatives of other missing people expressed relief for Jayme Closs and her family.

And while Jayme’s story can provide hope, it’s also bittersweet for people who have been searching for answers for years.

“I’m happy to hear that Jayme is found alive and well, I’m happy for that,” said Koua Lee, the brother of Hang Lee, who disappeared from St. Paul in 1993 when she was 17 and has never been found. “I also have to concentrate on my own sister, and it hurts that we don’t have closure.”

Roseanna Marie Forcum was last seen in St. Paul in 1998 when she was 15. Her father still marks her birthday on Dec. 3 each year. Last month, he got a cake that said, “Happy Birthday Rose” for her 36th birthday.

“There’s always hope for Rosie. I never give up,” John Daniel said Friday.

But Lee and Daniel also expressed frustration with the investigations into the disappearances of their loved ones.

In Jayme’s case, law enforcement received more than 3,500 tips, but the town of Gordon, Wis. — where the teen was found and a 21-year-old man was arrested Thursday — was not on their radar, according to the Barron County, Wis., sheriff.

“In cases like this, we often need a big break, and it was Jayme herself who gave us that break” when she was able to escape from the home where she was being held, said R. Justin Tolomeo, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Milwaukee division, on Friday.

Never came home from interview

Hang Lee was a Highland Park High School senior when she left her family’s St. Paul apartment for the last time in January 1993. She told her brother she was going to a job interview with a friend’s boss, later identified as a convicted sex offender. While dubbed a person of interest in Lee’s disappearance, he has never been arrested or charged in the case.

St. Paul police say they have asked the public for information on a regular basis and will continue to do so, but have been unable to find Lee or determine what happened to her. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 651-291-1111.

Koua Lee and his family have been trying to raise money for a reward.

“I hope someone finds it in their heart to do something about it and come forward,” he said Friday.

Women disappear after St. Paul party

Roseanna Forcum and her friend, 21-year-old April Nicole Geyer, disappeared after attending a party in St. Paul in mid-August 1998.

In 2000, an informant told St. Paul police that the young women had been strangled. He said he and the killer took the bodies to farmland outside Wadena in west-central Minnesota and buried them.

The area has been searched, including with cadaver-sniffing dogs, but Forcum and Geyer have not been found.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and police in St. Cloud, where Forcum was from, ask anyone with information to come forward, even if the information is provided anonymously. They should contact the BCA tip line at 877-996-6222.

Hope for families of other missing people

The discovery of Jayme on Thursday “does provide hope for those who are still looking,” said Alison Feigh, director of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. “These are days to celebrate.”

When a missing person is found safe, families of other missing individuals often reach out to the Wetterling Resource Center.

“When you’re trying to find pieces of a puzzle, you’re always looking for information, and they may want to know, ‘What worked in this case? Is there any part that will work in my family’s case?’” Feigh said.

People can see a list of missing Minnesotans on the BCA website at bit.ly/MissingMN. Anyone with information is asked to call the investigating law enforcement agency.