Dozens of friends and family members of a missing Greenwood woman have sifted through police reports, anonymous tips and leads from strangers on the Internet in the past six months.
Her mother has talked with police every few weeks about the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance and created a Facebook page to share her daughter’s story and face.
But after six months, friends and family of Larissa Sam don’t know where she went after she was last seen leaving a relative’s home June 21.
On Saturday, Sam’s 23rd birthday, her family is hosting a balloon release ceremony, where they hope to spread information about the case and seek new tips from the public by attaching messages to the balloons that give a number to call if they have seen Sam, her mother, Rebecca Russell, said.
The balloons hopefully will reach people who have new information about her daughter’s disappearance, Russell said.
“I do believe that she’s alive,” Russell said.
On June 20, Sam had worked at the Classy Chassy Gentleman’s Club in Indianapolis, then went to an uncle’s house in Indianapolis until about 4:30 a.m. the next day, Russell said. Just two months earlier, Sam had moved out of a family member’s house into her own apartment in Greenwood, Sam’s aunt Deborah Penn said.
“She never made it home from work, which is not like her,” Penn said.
That day, Sam was supposed to pick up her then-4-year-old son Marcus from her grandmother’s house but never showed up. After two hours of no response to calls and text messages, Russell started panicking. Sam sometimes ran late but would never forget to pick up her son, she said.
“I called every hospital, every jail from northern Indianapolis to Johnson County,” Russell said.
But no one had any information about Sam.
Later that day, Sam’s car was found by police in front of an abandoned house in a neighborhood on the southwest side of Indianapolis, less than 4 miles away from her uncle’s house, according to a police report from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Her keys were in the ignition, and her purse, wallet and cellphone were still in the car, police told Russell.
Since June, no one has heard from Sam.
Indianapolis police still are investigating where Sam is, said Kendale Adams, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Sam had never expressed a desire to move far away, and she wasn’t in trouble with anyone as far as her family knew, Penn said. Russell said she thinks maybe Sam was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I don’t think she ever could have left on her own,” Penn said. “She loved her son too much.”
Russell has seen false claims about her daughter’s disappearance on the Internet, such as a body found buried on a pig farm or that her body had been thrown into the White River. Every time a body is found in central Indiana, Russell said, she gets a panicked call from Sam’s grandmother.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” Russell said. “You have days where you’ll cry almost all day. You basically learn it’s OK to cry.”
Family and friends are hosting a balloon release to mark the birthday of missing Greenwood resident Larissa Sam:
Where: Johnson County fairgrounds. Enter the gate at the north end, off U.S. 31. People will gather in the open area where the rides and games are during the Johnson County fair.
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
What to bring: A balloon, with a message either written on the balloon or attached to the string.