Elaine Park was born on September 24, 1996. Growing up in La Crescenta, California with her mother, Susan Park, she was known for being outgoing and spunky, with a large circle of friends.
While a teenager, Elaine was a cheerleader at Crescenta Valley High School. While not at school, she was known to indulge in her love for musical theatre and dance, appearing in many productions and joining various dance companies.
Elaine was also an aspiring actress, appearing in several minor roles in both TV shows and movies. Her resume includes Crazy Stupid Love, Desperate Housewives, ER and Mad TV.
After graduating high school, Elaine attended Pierce College in Los Angeles, California. After taking a couple of courses, she dropped out. It was around this time she got laid off from her job at a local restaurant.
LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:
On January 27, 2017, Elaine texted her mother before heading to the movies with her then on-again, off-again boyfriend. At around 1:00am, the pair took an Uber back to his house, located in Calabasas, in the 2600 block of Delphine Lane, and shortly after went to sleep.
At 4:00am on the morning of January 28, Elaine woke up and appeared to be having a panic attack, with her boyfriend noting she was shaking.
At around 6:05am that morning, against her boyfriend’s wishes, Elaine left the house and appeared to drive away.
Later in the day, Susan responded to her daughter’s text message. However, she didn’t receive a response. Given Elaine’s private nature, she didn’t think too much of this and wasn’t alarmed when she didn’t return home that day.
When the next day rolled around and Elaine still hadn’t been seen or heard from, Susan grew worried, leading her to file a missing persons report with the Glendale Police Department on January 30, 2017.
Upon Susan reporting her daughter as missing, she was told not to worry, as Elaine was probably fine and would contact her in the next day or so.
On February 2, 2017, police changed their stance on Elaine’s case when her grey 2015 Honda Civic was found abandoned on the Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Corral Canyon Road in Malibu. The location was approximately 20 miles from her boyfriend’s residence and surrounded by businesses and houses. It was discovered that the doors were unlocked and, while the lights were on, the car’s battery was dead. Inside, police found Elaine’s cellphone, backpack, computer and some money.
Upon the discovery of Elaine’s car, police brought in bloodhounds and divers to conduct a search of the area. However, after a day of searching, no sign of Elaine was found and the search was suspended, with police refocusing their investigation on interviewing the missing woman’s friends and family.
Police spoke to Elaine’s boyfriend and took surveillance footage from the area. It showed Elaine walking toward her car, but police were unable to see if she got into it and therefore couldn’t conclude if it was indeed her driving away or if it was someone else.
Investigators say Elaine’s boyfriend has been cooperative throughout the investigation and is not considered a suspect at this time.
Not long after her disappearance, a reward of $500,000 was raised for information leading to Elaine’s return. With an expiry date of September 24, 2017 – her 21st birthday – it was the hope of her family that it would help generate new leads. However, none were called in and the reward was left unclaimed.
In September 2017, previously unreleased surveillance footage was shared with the public, showing an unknown vehicle that looks to be a SUV in the Calabasas area around the time Elaine was seen leaving her boyfriend’s house. This vehicle struck investigators as odd, as there’s no reason for it to be there at that time, and thus they sent out a plea for information regarding it or its owner. It is not known at this time if police were able to find the car or identify who was driving it.
That same month, Elaine’s high school organized an event to raise awareness about the case. The school’s cheerleaders wore yellow ribbons on their uniforms as a sign of solidarity with the Park family.
On September 12, 2017, Susan went before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to ask that the case be transferred to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, as she felt Glendale PD wasn’t doing enough to progress it. The request was denied, with Glendale PD claiming there was no evidence a crime had been committed and they were doing all they could in their investigation.
Just before the one-year anniversary of Elaine’s disappearance, a hiker discovered a dead body in Malibu Bluffs Park, not far from where Elaine’s car had been found. Police investigated and concluded it was not Elaine and is not related the case.
On the one-year anniversary of her disappearance, Elaine’s family and friends came together to mark the occasion, as well as to announce a new $140,000 reward had been issued. Set to expire on June 1, 2018, it was later extended through to the end of the year.
Given their feeling that investigators weren’t doing enough to solve the case, Elaine’s family hired private investigator Jayden Brant. He searched the Santa Monica Mountains and Angeles National Park, but found nothing. Through his own investigation, he’s received tips he says lean toward foul play.
Police recently requested the submission of photographs taken in the area where Elaine’s car was found, around the time of January 28, 2017 and February 2, 2017. This is to help verify or disprove their theory that Elaine’s car was already in Malibu at least two days prior to it being found.
Susan continuously posts flyers around areas where her daughter was known to frequent. She has also conducted her own searches of these areas, but has so far found no new evidence.
As of publishing, no new major developments in the case have come to light. However, Glendale PD say they continue to receive tips and are following up on each one that is called in.
1) Online sleuths have shared they believe Elaine might have died by suicide, given her mental state the morning she disappeared, the fact she suffers from depression and the lack of evidence in the case. However, her family disputes this, believing she wouldn’t take her own life.
2) The theory held by both Elaine’s family and police is that Elaine’s disappearance is the result of foul play. However, there hasn’t been enough evidence found to conclusively prove this or lead in the direction of a crime having been committed. While police don’t currently have any suspects, online sleuths feel a better look at Elaine’s boyfriend is needed, despite the fact he’s been ruled out as having been involved.
3) Some speculate Elaine ran away. However, this seems unlikely, given her money, cellphone and computer were left in her car. As well, her family doesn’t believe she would run away.
Police say the case is still open and will remain so until there has been a resolution.
Rosemarie Wheeler, who has been following the case closely, started the Facebook page Help Find Elaine Park to help bring in new leads and keep the case in the public eye. She has also set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money.
Rolling Stone writer Neil Strauss and Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger teamed up to help raise awareness about the case through the making of “Find Elaine Park” t-shirts.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Elaine Park went missing in Calabasas, California, from the 2600 block of Delphine Lane, on January 28, 2017. She was 20 years old and was last seen wearing a white sweatshirt, denim shorts and possibly a pair of grey sweatpants. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5’6″ and weighed approximately 125 pounds. She has brown hair with blonde tips and brown eyes, and is known to wear heavy mascara and makeup. She has her ears and nose pierced, and three tattoos: a cow skull on her upper left arm, a dagger and cross on her right arm, and a rose on her left shoulder. She is known to suffer from depression.
Currently, her case is classified as an unwilling missing persons. If alive, she would be 22 years old.
If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911 or the case’s tip line at 1-800-551-3080.
Image Credit: Websleuths