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Sister hoping for new clues in disappearance of Pennsylvania woman Dana Smithers, last seen on camera 7 months ago

The 45-year-old was last seen on May 28, 2022, leaving her neighbor’s house. Her phone, purse, and other personal items were later recovered at her house.

UPDATE: On May 1, 2023 the Stroud Area Regional Police Department in Pennsylvania announced that Dana Smithers has been found dead.

A few days earlier, on April 27, the department said in a press release that at approximately 11:22 am that day, dispatch received a call from borough employee who discovered “what was believed to be human remains” in a “wooded area next to Park Avenue/ 80 E on-ramp, in the Borough of Stroudsburg.” The remains were recovered by detectives and turned over to the coroner’s office.

The autopsy, conducted on May 1, determined the remains belonged to Dana. The cause and manner of her death are currently undetermined.

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“Her kids need her. I need her. My mom needs her,” Stacey Smithers told Dateline. “We need to know what happened.”

Stacey’s younger sister, 45-year-old Dana Smithers, has been missing since May 28, 2022.

“I was getting my sister back and then this happened,” Stacey said.

Stacey and Dana grew up in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. “We’re basically at the end of the Poconos,” Stacey said. “It’s a resort community. Really nice growing up there.”

Stacey told Dateline that growing up, the sisters were close. “Gregarious is the word that you used to describe Dana,” Stacey said, adding that her sister has a “very boisterous laugh” and is “always having fun.”

“We used to like it when she had a cold,” Stacey said, with a laugh. “Because she was calm.”

Stacey told Dateline that Dana has three children: a 25-year-old son, a 23-year-old daughter, and a 7-year-old daughter. According to Stacey, Dana’s children are her whole world. “She didn’t do anything that didn’t involve her kids,” she said. “That was her thing. I mean she was always there with the kids.”

Dana and her eldest daughter.
Dana and her eldest daughter.Stacey Smithers

According to Stacey, Dana and her youngest daughter lived with Dana and Stacey’s mother in Stroudsburg.

Stacey told Dateline that Dana and her youngest daughter went to spend some time with the daughter’s father earlier in the day on May 28. Stacey said that Dana and her daughter’s father were no longer together but still maintained an amicable relationship.

She said the three of them went to a festival at the Happy Hour Bar and Grille in Stroudsburg and were “walking around saying hi to everybody” and dancing.

Stacey said the three of them then left and went back to Dana’s house. After returning home, “[Dana] walked over to see if Tara wanted to come over and hang out on the patio,” Stacey said.

Tara Cioni is Dana’s friend and neighbor. “We’re best friends. She’s been my neighbor for 16 years,” Tara told Dateline. “We’ve raised our children together.”

Tara told Dateline she saw Dana earlier that day. “She was driving home from work and I was walking over to -- there was this street festival,” she recalled. “She's like, ‘Hey, like, I'll see you over there.’”

Tara said she saw Dana at the festival and that “it was really fun.” Later that night, Dana came over to her place, Tara said.

According to Tara, the two only live a few houses down from each other, so dropping in was a regular occurrence. “It was an open door policy, like, with her,” she said.

“So she came in and she was here for a little bit,” Tara recalled. “I don’t know if she was nervous -- I’m not too sure what was going on with her.”

Tara told Dateline that Dana also smoked a cigarette which leads her to believe Tara that Dana was nervous, since she only knew her to smoke when she was on edge. “If I would have known that was the last time I would have seen her, I would have definitely asked more questions but I was sort of like, ‘I'm going to bed,’” she said.

Tara said that Dana asked her to come over to her place and hang out, but since it was late, Tara declined. “I was like, ‘No. I'm going to bed, like, I'm exhausted.’”

Tara said that when Dana left, she was captured on Tara’s Ring camera. She had her phone in her hand. It was around 11:00 p.m. “That was the last time anyone saw her,” Stacey said of her sister.

“My mother called me the morning of the 29th, which was Sunday, and asked me if I talked to her,” Stacey recalled. “I said no, and she said, ‘Well, Dana didn’t come home last night.”

According to Stacey that wasn’t the first time Dana didn’t come home. “Dana has stayed out overnight and not called anybody,” Stacey said. “It hasn’t happened recently, but you know, she’s 45 years old. We don’t always check in with our parents at 45.”

But what was highly unusual, Stacey said, is that Dana’s phone and car keys were found at the house. “If she was going to go out and do something like that, she would have taken the car,” Stacey said. “She always took her pills. Her purse with her medication, her cell phone, and the car keys were all at the house.”

Dana Smithers
Dana SmithersStacey Smithers

Stacey told Dateline that her sister struggled on and off with substance abuse but had been doing much better. So taking her prescribed pills was extremely important to her. “I’m not going to tell you my sister was an angel,” Stacey said. “But her meds had been adjusted recently by her primary care physician and in my opinion, she was getting much better,” Stacey said, adding that she and her sister “were getting close again.”

Tara told Dateline that she “never thought” Dana was using again. “She could have told me, but I really don’t think it was that,” Tara said.

By Monday, May 30 -- Memorial Day -- Stacey said she knew something was definitely wrong. “[Dana and her children] have a family tradition where every Memorial Day they go to a park in Pennsylvania called Knoebels Park,” Stacey said. “She would not have missed Memorial Day.”

But Dana did miss Memorial Day and she hasn’t been seen since.

Stacey said on Tuesday, May 31, she called the Stroudsburg Regional Police Department to report her sister missing. “The officer said she’s an adult, she can go missing,” Stacey said. “I know now that I should have fought harder for them to take me seriously.”

Stacey said that one of Dana’s friends persistently called the police throughout the week and “finally got them to take us seriously.” Stacey told Dateline that the official missing person report was filed on June 5, 2022.

On June 22, the Stroud Area Regional Police Department posted that their “department continues to ask for the public’s assistance for any information regarding missing Stroudsburg Borough resident, Dana Smithers.” The post goes on to say that “the investigation into this case has not revealed any information on the whereabouts of Ms. Smithers or indicate that any crime was committed.” It added that on the morning of June 22, “with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police, a search was conducted in the area of Glen Park in Stroudsburg,” however, “the search did not result in any additional information being obtained.”

Stacey confirmed to Dateline that police did a search for Dana on June 22. “There’s a park down the street from my mom’s house,” Stacey said. “They did a search with cadaver dogs with the assistance of the state police department. And they came up with nothing.”

There have been no additional updates posted by authorities. Dateline reached out for an update in the case, but the Stroud Area Regional Police Department was unavailable for comment.

“I think something happened,” Stacey said. “I don’t think she’s here anymore.”

Dana’s best friend, Tara, also believes something bad may have happened to her friend. “She would never leave her children like this,” Tara said. “We were planning for the summer. She had a lot going on.”

Dana with her mother and her youngest daughter.
Dana with her mother and her youngest daughter.Stacey Smithers

Despite that, Stacey said she won’t stop fighting for answers. “My mom is 74 years old,” Stacey said. “ I don’t want her to not see this get fixed, I don’t want her to not see this end.” Stacey also said she continuously spreads awareness and updates about her sister’s disappearance on the ‘Finding Dana’ Facebook page.

Dana is about 5’5” tall, weighs 160 lbs., and has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a red shirt with black pants and white shoes.

Anyone with information about Dana’s whereabouts is asked to call the Stroud Area Regional Police Department at 570-421-6800.