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’I’m scared,’ daughter of missing person, Steven Hjelm, searches for answers

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 5:02 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Huddled in a small apartment on 16th avenue, friends and family of missing person Steven Hjelm mapped out a plan of where to search next.

The group had been searching the Southside of town but had no luck and are now branching out further.

Fear, worry, and heartbreak could be felt in the room and the voices of those speaking.

“We contact each other almost every day, so he is my support system,” Bryn Hjelm said, holding back tears talking about her relationship with her father, Steven Hjelm.

Bryn is a nursing student in Anchorage who traveled to Fairbanks to help with the search. More than a dozen other family and friends from around Alaska had also arrived in town to assist.

Steven Hjelm, 54, went missing on January 9th after leaving his sister’s house on 16th Avenue, headed towards a corner store on foot. He has not been heard from since that day.

Saturday afternoon searches started near the northeast side of town by Walmart and then fanned out. Family members looked in abandoned buildings, on trails, and in homeless camps for any clues.

The family also arranged for moose soup to be served outside of the Tanana Chiefs Conference to spread awareness and attract community members to come forward with any information.

“I’m scared. I’m thankful for everyone that has come together to help. I think we could all get past this. I know he is somewhere, and I just want everyone to help out and to help find him,” Bryn Hjelm said.

The Fairbanks Police Department is in charge of the case, and Deputy Chief Ron Dupee said the community’s help is needed.

“We’ve looked in the surrounding areas where we believe that he was going, based on the information that we have. We’ve reached out to the family. Any of the leads that we can track down, we’ve done that,” Dupee said. “We need the community’s help if someone has seen Steven; if they know where he is at, we need them to give us a call.”

According to the Troopers and the Fairbanks Police Department database, Steven Hjelm is one of seven people to go missing since August of 2020.

  • 8/17/20 69-year-old Frank Minano’s truck was abandoned near the Old Nenana Highway; extensive searches did not locate Minano.
  • 8/17/20 John McCelland, 61, went missing, his travel direction unknown.
  • 8/20/20 Debbie Nictune, 59, was last seen at the Northward Apartment building on Noble Street.
  • 8/28/20 Doren Sanford, 35, was visiting Fairbanks in search of his dog when he mysteriously disappeared.
  • 11/13/20 Willis Derendoff, 34, was visiting from Huslia, staying at the Extended Stay Hotel, and later became missing.
  • 1/9/21 Steven Hjelm, 54, was last seen leaving his sister’s house on 16th Avenue, walking towards a corner store on South Cushman.
  • 1/10/21 Brandy Haferman, 30, was reported missing after her family had not heard from her since late 2019; police last saw her in May 2020.

If you have any information on Steven Hjelm or any other missing person, you are asked to contact the Fairbanks Police Department at (907) 450-6500 or the Alaska State Troopers (907) 451-5100. Tips can remain anonymous.

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