Saturday, 15 August 2009

Walsh and Fitch are Cree Indians from Salt River First Nations at Fort Smith NWT

Walsh and Fitch are Cree Indians from Salt River First Nations at Fort Smith in Canada's Northwest Territories. They were adopted as young children by Dolph and Eileen Hitesman, formerly of Glenns Ferry and now of Meridian.

For Fitch, the search for her sister has been bittersweet.

"Because of all this, I found another sister and our birth mother. I got my original birth certificate," Fitch said. "She's not here to share this with. It really sucks."

What happened to Meridian grandma and Boise postal worker Rachael Walsh?

A year of searching has been futile, but her sister has learned a lot about herself


Copyright: © 2009 Idaho Statesman

Published: 08/14/09

It would have been a big year for Rachael Walsh: One daughter graduated from high school, another finished a college degree, her sixth grandchild was born.

But the 48-year-old Meridian mother of four wasn't around to experience these joys and life milestones. She went missing from her Elmore County campsite on Aug. 16 last year - and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Walsh's family and friends will gather for a potluck and candlelight vigil at Tully Park in Meridian on Sunday night, the anniversary of her disappearance.

"We don't ever want to forget. We don't want the public to forget she's out there somewhere," said Walsh's sister, Karen Fitch.

Walsh was a U.S. Postal Service employee for 27 years in Boise. Dozens of her co-workers in October participated in a massive search of the area where she went missing - Fall Creek Lodge at Anderson Ranch Reservoir - but failed to turn up any clues about what happened to her.

Walsh, whose husband, Joe, died in October 2007, was last seen dining at the lodge near the rural campsite at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2008. She and her red Dodge Neon (Idaho plate 1A UK314) vanished, but her wallet, credit cards and asthma medicine were found in the trailer.

Fitch says her sister was depressed at the time she went missing, still mourning the loss of her husband and death of her best friend. She was arrested in the spring on a DUI charge and missed a court appearance in early August.

Walsh's family and Elmore County sheriff's investigators haven't stopped looking for her. She's been featured on the "America's Most Wanted" TV show and Web site, generating some tips.

"There have been a few reported sightings," said Elmore County sheriff's Det. Bob Chaney. None have panned out.

Nothing has been ruled out, he said, including an accidental death, foul play or that she simply walked away. Two sonar searches of the reservoir have been done; a car was found, but it wasn't Walsh's.

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