30 Years Looking for Jolene Lakey

SCRANTON -- A child disappearance in Lackawanna County is still a mystery, 30 years after an 11-year-old girl went missing in Scranton's hill section.

It was August 26, 1986, when Jolene Lakey disappeared, and there's been no sign of her since.

On Friday, the family talked about how agonizing it has been all these years.

Jolene Lakey was just 11 years old when she was last seen in Scranton's hill section, not far from her family's home on North Washington Avenue.

Her mom and three older siblings have since moved out of Scranton but they come back here every year on August 26.

"The memory of Jolene and what has gone on and happened to us keeps me going, keeps me coming back, even though this hurts," said Jolene's mother Lois Dunham. "I need oxygen when I leave; I can't breathe in this county."

The air was muggy on Courthouse Square in Scranton, suffocating for Lois Dunham. She and three of her children stop here every August 26.

The kiosk on Spruce Street bears the name of Dunham's youngest child Michelle Jolene Lakey. Her face is there too, along with the faces of other missing children.

Jolene's sister still pictures that smiling 11-year-old girl.

"A little bundle of energy," recalled Justina Forsythe. "Completely unafraid to speak her mind, she loved animals and she wanted to be a vet. And she would be a really great person."

An age progression photo shows that Jolene would look like at 41. The family along with police and prosecutors met to recognize the 30 years that have passed since Jolene went missing in 1986.

"All we have is questions. I can't go to sleep without thinking, 'Where is she, and what happened? Is she cold? Is somebody assaulting her? What's going on?' That's never out of my mind. I've spent 30 years wondering. It's too long," said Dunham.

Jolene Lakey's case is still an open investigation for the state police. Their chief suspect hasn't changed.

Frank Osellanie is serving a life sentence for killing another young girl in 1989.  Lois Dunham says she does not believe Osellanie is directly responsible but each year she makes the same plea.

"What I want you to do, Frank, is speak whatever you know about what happened, because even if you yourself are not responsible, you know the people who are. And I want answers, please, please give me some peace."

When Lakey's family met with police Friday afternoon, Lackawanna County Commissioner Pat O'Malley announced that he is offering a $5,000 reward for information about Jolene's whereabouts. Lamar Advertising is also planning to put up billboards with Jolene's picture.

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