Police, family still working to ‘Find Dani’
Farmington Hills police officers, attempting to spur tips, have written a special message on the back windows of their cruisers: “#FindDani.
It’s a reference to Danielle Stislicki, who vanished from her home in Farmington Hills in 2016.
With the 18-month anniversary of her disappearance approaching and few clues emerging in the case, the hashtag doubles as a rallying cry to renew interest that could solve the mystery.
“We’re trying to let the public know that we haven’t forgotten about Danielle,” said police Cmdr. Bonnie Unruh, who spearheaded the effort. “We feel there’s somebody out there who knows something and may be hesitant to come forward. This may trigger them to tell what they know.”
The quest for answers started as soon as Stislicki failed to meet a longtime friend as planned after leaving her job at MetLife in Southfield around 5 p.m. Dec. 2, 2016. A friend went to the 28-year-old’s apartment complex near Halsted and Grand River the next day. Her black 2015 Jeep Renegade remained nearby, locked, coated in mud with her purse inside.
Since then, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have helped Farmington Hills investigators in their search, and a reward for tips has reached nearly $130,000.
Numerous search warrants have been executed, and authorities combed the home of a former guard who worked for a company that previously provided security at the building housing Stislicki’s office. In December, a Wayne County Circuit judge sentenced him to 16-35 years in prison for a 2016 attack on a Livonia jogger.
Investigators initially described Stislicki as a crime victim, then last year acknowledged she might be dead.
As detectives chase leads, Stislicki’s friends and family spread the word and have sought justice on their own, launching a website where supporters can print fliers on the case as well as a Facebook page dedicated to updates.
The latter has reached more than 23 million users, said Chris Paliewicz, her uncle who oversees the site. The “Find Dani” message originated online and supporters have since adorned it on T-shirts, jerseys, bracelets, rocks, even garage doors and sidewalks, he said. “It’s incredibly empowering and humbling, and just warms your heart to know people will just do this until they don’t have to. They’re watching, they’re listening, they’re out there. We’re really grateful.”
Extending that to the Farmington Hills police force fleet “shows the family that we support them and it also lets the public know we are still actively working this case,” Unruh said. “We’d like to get justice for Danielle.”
Her family welcomed the message. “Thank you Farmington Hills Police Department for keeping Danielle’s case top of mind to the public so we can bring her home,” mother Ann Stislicki wrote on Facebook.
Though more time passes without closure, relatives believe their efforts can pay off.
“Someone had to have seen something,” Paliewicz said. “So we just keep doing this because we’re going to eventually get to that person or one of those persons.”
Technological advances and the rise of social media platforms have been a “game changer” in spotlighting cases, said Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Sarah Krebs, who is involved in missing person probes. “People are way more aware of the amount that go missing and the types of cases. We’ve had a lot more being shared online, a lot more law enforcement engagement.”
For many of those closely tied to the more than 4,380 people the state lists as missing, their goal mirrors the Stislicki family’s, Krebs said. “It can be devastating to a family when they don’t know what happened.”
Finding Danielle Stislicki
Anyone with information is asked to call the Farmington Hills Police Department at (248) 871-2610