KOKOMO — It's been five years since Karena McClerkin was last seen alive and her family is still pushing forward, sharing her image and begging for someone to come forward with information.
Karena was just 18 years old when she went missing on October 11, 2016. Police said she was last seen walking down the 1,000 block of South Washington Street in Kokomo.
“I just want her found. Her family wants her found. It’s tore this family to pieces. Everybody is almost went their own way. They hold it in, they don’t let it out," Karena's grandmother, Gerry McClerkin, said.
“I just want the community to step out for her. Five years is too long, way too long," Gerry said of the search for her granddaughter.
Karena is a sister, an aunt, a daughter and a granddaughter. Her three-year-old niece is named after her. Gerry said the family has looked for Karena tirelessly these last five years.
"Over 500 miles in and around Kokomo from Jonesboro to Burlington, Peru...We have covered every woods we've driver by. We'd stop and knock on the door to see if we can walk through their woods," Gerry said.
Karena's family and friends want more done to find her. Gerry said the family wants both the police department and community to step up.
"Why only remember her two days out of the year when everybody else is getting national coverage? Karena existed. She was not our imagination," Gerry said.
The Kokomo grandmother said she will never stop looking for her granddaughter, so her family will be at peace one day.
"Not until the day I die," Gerry said.
Police have executed search warrants and pursued several leads in the case over the past two years, but have not turned up any information on where Karena could be.
The McClerkin family enlisted the services of four private investigators in 2018 to help them pursue some of those leads, including a tip from an inmate who believed she knew where Karena was buried. But that tip, like many others, didn't turn up anything new.
A reward is still being offered for information on her case.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Karena McClerkin contact Kokomo Police at 765-456-7017 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477.
The Kokomo police department issued the following statement marking five years since Karena's disappearance.
"On October 11, 2021, marks five years since Karena’s disappearance. We want to remind the public that her case remains an active investigation. In the past five years, Kokomo Police Department investigators have pursued numerous leads and tips but the case remains open. The Kokomo Police will continue to search for Karena McClerkin. Kokomo Police Department investigators believe someone knows what happened to Karena McClerkin.
This investigation can be resolved and ask that “if you know something, say something”. The Kokomo Police Department continues to ask for the community’s assistance. Anyone with any information that they believe may be helpful in locating Karena McClerkin is asked to contact Captain Mike Banush at (765) 456-7278, or the Kokomo Police Department Hotline at (765) 456-7017."