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Cold Case Spotlight

Tracing the Last Known Steps of Jolene Lakey

Jolene Lakey will be eternally 11 years old in the eyes of many. That's how old the young girl from Scranton, Pennsylvania was when she disappeared.

"Every moment of every day, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her," Ms. Dunham, Jolene's mother, told the Times Tribune in 2011, the 25th anniversary of her daughter's disappearance.

Jolene had set off for home the afternoon of August 26th, 1986. She had been visiting her mother, who was a patient at Mercy Hospital at the time. From there, she was headed to a friend's home. She never made it.

Almost every year on the anniversary of Jolene's disappearance, her sisters, mother, and several members of the local community retrace her last known steps, symbolically completing the trip for Jolene.

"It takes my breath away. It's been too long not to have any answers, not to know anything," Ms. Dunham told the Times.

Numerous searches were conducted in the months and years after Jolene vanished, but nothing of significance to lead detectives to an answer.

Several years passed before police named a person of interested in Jolene's case; Frank Osellanie, a former Scranton auto mechanic. Osllanie had been convicted in 1990 of kidnapping, raping, and murdering another young local girl, Renee Waddle, and is currently serving a life sentence in that case.

Osellanie has never been charged in Jolene's disappearance and has always maintained his innocence in the case. Jolene's family members say she knew Osellanie and would frequent his auto shop to play with his dog.

Scranton police have stated numerous times that Jolene's case remains open, but have said they cannot release much information as it may jeopardize the investigation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, have also reportedly assisted on the case.

"She's a Scrantonian. She's part of our lives. It's an unsolved case. It's a cold case. Someday, we'd like to provide closure," Lt. Bob Martin of the Scranton Police Department told the Times in 2012.

Despite the years that have ticked on, Jolene's family continues to search and spread information about the young girl who loved animals. "She will always be my 11-year-old child," said Ms. Dunham.

If you have any information that can help, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police at (717) 783-5599.