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20 years missing: Woman marks somber anniversary of mother's disappearance

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SANDY — Stephanie Cook was 5 years old when her mother mysteriously disappeared 20 years ago.

On Saturday, as has become an annual tradition, Cook, along with about a dozen family members, friends and new acquaintances, released balloons near the memorial stone at Larkin Sunset Gardens cemetery that honors her mother, Bobbi Ann Campbell, who disappeared Dec. 27, 1994.

The observance serves two purposes, to pause and remember Campbell and to keep her story before the public. Any small detail might help Cook learn of her mother's whereabouts, she said.

"Hopefully we don't need to wait any longer. Twenty years is way too long," Cook said prior to the balloon release.

Participants were asked to attach to the balloons hand-written notes to Campbell, who vanished after leaving Cook with friends while she ran errands.

Marki Davis, Cook's friend and private investigator who is helping the family with the search for Campbell, wrote, "We will never stop looking."

Cook, who is married and has a 16-month-old son, has many unanswered questions. Chiefly, she wants to know what happened to her mother.

"It has been a rough 20 years. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about my mom and wonder what may have happened to her. At times it seems really unfair that I have had to deal with this for 20 years while there is someone out there that knows what happened," she said Saturday.

The last time Cook last saw her 24-year-old mother, she had dropped her off at a friend's house while she picked up her paycheck and purchased groceries.

Campbell may have been spotted in a local park six months after her disappearance, investigators have said. Her car was discovered abandoned near the Jordan River in late 1995. Campbell's makeup, purse, clothes and year-old Christmas presents reportedly were inside.

A memorial stone for Bobbi Ann Campbell, who went missing Dec. 27, 1994, at Larkin Cemetery in Sandy on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
A memorial stone for Bobbi Ann Campbell, who went missing Dec. 27, 1994, at Larkin Cemetery in Sandy on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Cook said she has fond memories of her mother. The two were rarely apart, she said.

"I remember her laugh. I loved making her laugh. We used to go camping, fishing, to the park, Lagoon, the zoo, etc. It seems like I never left her side except for that day. I know she loved me," Cook said.

Because of their close bond, the years since her mother's disappearance have been particularly challenging.

"Each year seems to be harder. I didn't have my mom here for all of the big moments in life like graduation, my wedding and when I had my son. It has been really hard."

Cook's ongoing search for her mother did solve one mystery — she was able "through fate and the Internet," to track down a brother she had never met. Thomas Linton was also Campbell's son. Cook was 1 when Campbell placed him for adoption.

Campbell kept mementos of her son: baby clothes and pictures that his adoptive parents sent her. Cook kept them, hoping that she would one day meet her brother.

Cook encourages anyone who might know something about her mother's disappearance to come forward.

"Somebody knows what happened. She didn't just vanish."

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Marjorie Cortez

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