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Family buoyed by support in search for Mich. woman

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For those who care about Danielle Stislicki, the weeks without her have seemed like an eternity.

Ann Stislicki wipes away tears as people gather to support her family during vigil for her missing daughter, Danielle Stislicki, on Thursday. Danielle was last seen Dec. 2.

Since the 28-year-old vanished Dec. 2 after leaving work, friends and family have sought answers as investigators followed leads and labored to find the Farmington Hills woman. They cling to hope she will be found — and to an outpouring of support from strangers.

“We will remain vigilant looking for Danielle with your help, your eyes, your heart and your spirit,” her father, Richard Stislicki, told hundreds of well-wishers gathered gathered for a vigil Thursday evening. “We hope that we can make this happen.”

Scores of community members, elected officials and others packed the Hubert-Fortiers-O’Grady VFW Post 345 in Redford Township, where Stislicki grew up, to plead for answers.

Stislicki

Her mother, Ann, was moved to tears when township Supervisor Tracey Schultz Kobylarz pointed out that most of the large crowd included people who had never met Stislicki.

That support helps ease the stress of an overwhelming situation, Ann Stislicki said.

”People say that we are very strong. We are very strong because of you,” she said while standing near her husband and daughters. “… I literally feel that there is you pulling me up.”

Stislicki had asked to leave work early at MetLife, planning to meet a longtime friend.

When Stislicki failed to show, a friend went to her apartment complex near Halsted and Grand River at around 6 p.m. the next day. Stislicki’s mud-covered black 2015 Jeep Renegade was found locked about 10 feet from the door with her purse inside.

From the time she was reported missing, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have helped Farmington Hills investigators work to find her.

Richard Stislicki is embraced by friends and supporters during the vigil in Livonia. Police say they are still following tips in the case.

Last month, authorities said they believed Stislicki was a crime victim but declined to release details.

Days later, law enforcement officials searched a Berkley home Thursday in connection with the disappearance. Farmington Hills Police did not disclose what, if anything, was found.

Farmington Hills Police Chief Chuck Nebus has said his agency and others have searched several locations over the past month.

Reached Thursday, Assistant Chief Matt Koehn said his department is “working diligently and making progress.”

“We have quite a bit of evidence that we’re analyzing and following up on tips,” Koehn said, adding investigators are limited in what they can release so as not to hinder the probe.

“We’re looking for the public’s help in anyway possible — specifically anyone who may have seen her leaving the building.”

State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, who has worked on human trafficking legislation, urged the community to stay watchful to keep others — even strangers — safe.

“There are many things that we can do as citizens just in our everyday lives: being more aware of what we’re seeing talking to our friends, our churches, our schools and making the call when your instinct tells you something just doesn’t seem right in the situation,” she said.

Stislicki is just one of the missing person cases that deserve attention, Richard Stislicki said. “We need to take action beyond the support that you’ve shown here. We need to be vigilant and stop these things while we can.”

Among the many supporters who donned maroon-colored pins at the hall was Janel Sherwin of West Bloomfield Township. Gathering to speak out “just re-energizes the efforts and confirms how much the community and police are looking for her and trying to solve this,” she said.

Stislicki, whose relatives described as a joyful young woman with a love of singing and dancing, graduated from Redford Union High School in 2006 and turns 29 next month. Not knowing her whereabouts weighs heavily on loved ones.

“It’s been really hard on us,” said her cousin, Mason Paliewicz, who joined other relatives at the vigil. “It’s been hard for all of us. She’s always like the role model for the family.”

To generate tips, a GoFundMe page seeking money for a reward has raised about $29,700. Independence Green Apartments and MetLife have also each pledged $50,000, bringing the total to nearly $130,000.

Meanwhile, supporters have created a Facebook page and website for information.

Highlighting the case and spreading the word could spur others to come forward, Ann Stislicki said Thursday night. “You never know who or what day you might touch that person who knows something.”

Stislicki is described as 5-foot-5, with wavy, medium-length brown hair. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black zip-up shirt, a blue Eddie Bauer coat and burgundy boots.

Anyone with information may call the Farmington Hills Police Department at (248) 871-2610.