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Police make new plea for information in 5 year disappearance of Duluth woman

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SSC 5th anniversary

DULUTH, MN-- Five years ago, a Duluth woman disappeared.

"So this year marks 5 years that Sheila's been missing." Watching the years go by has been difficult for Shawn Carr.

Every September, he organizes a vigil to keep Sheila St. Clair in people's minds.

"It seems like it gets tougher every year," said Carr. "It's emotionally draining."

St. Clair was last seen at the Cascade Apartments in Duluth in September 2015.

She reportedly planned to visit family on the White Earth Reservation, but never arrived. No one has seen her since.

"I'm heartbroken that we're here again, actually, for a 5th year," said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, at the vigil. "It has been a raw, open wound for dozens and hundreds of people in this community."

Larson and Police Chief Mike Tusken issued another plea for information.

Tusken said they're close to solving the case, but haven't made much progress over the years.

"We're hoping to get that tip that we need to solve this, to bring Sheila home to her family, bring her home to this community," said Tusken.

St. Clair's disappearance sparked a movement in Duluth to end the epidemic of violence against Native women.

They're 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average.

"We think that is somewhere else and we think that it's happening in another state or it's happening in another community. It is happening here," said Larson.

Historically, the Native community has not trusted law enforcement.

The police department didn't learn about St. Clair's disappearance until several weeks later.

Tusken said it's an issue they're working to address.

"It is important for us to have relationships and build trust in this community so we take these very seriously," he said.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement is also gaining attention at the state and national level.

There's a federal task force and Congress recently passed laws to combat the problem.

"We're making progress. Whether it's taking a long time, that's ok. We're making progress. Our voices are being heard and that is what is meaningful and powerful to me," said Jessica Smith, a researcher for the Sovereign Bodies Institute.

Progress is exactly what Carr would like to see in St. Clair's case, so he's not forced to plan another vigil next year.

"I'd just like to see some closure, because the family deserves that. The community does," said Carr.

Chief Tusken says they need people to come forward with information, no matter how small it seems.

He says they received a tip on Monday and before that, March.

If you have any information, you're asked to call DPD's Violent Crimes Unit at 218-730-5050.

Bonney Bowman

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