Update, 7:51 pm South Tahoe NOW website “Remains found confirmed by family as Marie Hanson; Services on Saturday at Sierra Community Church.”
Earlier Post: These last 3 days, professional and volunteer rescuers combed the area where Marie Hanson was last seen, search dogs guiding hundreds of dedicated people through cold wet thick underbrush. The family posted this September 10th.
“Late this afternoon the Skamania County Sheriff informed Marie’s family that human remains and jewelry were found at the search site. Positive identification has not been made, however the remains were located near Marie’s camp, and there are no other missing persons reported. Sheriff officers will remain at the site throughout the investigation. Marie’s family requests that you allow them their privacy for a couple of days. When positive identification is made, we will post the news. Thank you friends for your loving support.”
This is a tragedy no one wanted to hear.
Marie’s story resonates with me. I now live in an area full of desolate, beautiful, dangerous places that people are drawn to and get lost in. And in my own lifetime, two close friends were murdered. So, of the recent search, it struck me that using dogs in the exact area Marie Hanson was last seen was the first sensible choice. But it didn’t occur to me before. When sensible is needed most in a crisis, there can be a million obstacles.
The biggest one: We think of lives important to us in the continuum of life. We picture the person we know, living: she left of her own accord, she walked off, she went on foot, she hitchhiked, she, Marie, moved on her own because she was alive. We all thought it, look elsewhere because she’s not where she was so she must be somewhere far off, the place she went to, and we will find her there.
The event itself adds credence, a gathering primed for life-altering revelation; for wandering off in contemplative trances and epiphany for the many thousands drawn to it for just that.
What happened? Forensics will answer.
Her family responded quickly and powerfully because they knew Marie Hanson; voluntary vanishing was out of character. The devastating climax will lead to inevitable questions of how the search may have been done differently. Maybe our human fault lies in the unwillingness to envision a loved one dead. I count as one of the many hopeful that she’d turn up at the front door, call from a far-off place and broken down car, be discovered lost in the woods, cold, hungry, but alive. It’s all I pictured.
I’m saying this because the mission of finding someone lost still needs honing, and this horrible way to learn will lead the teams who work on these things, all of us, to engage in the serious sorting out of how to do it better next time.
I suspect Marie Hanson was an innocent. And now she is an innocent lost to us and none of it is right. Her killer will be found and prosecuted. I beg the family not to care about him or his motives. Sadists have limited imaginations and may be hard for good people to fathom but who cares about why. The reasons don’t matter. It’s why prosecution is ultimately reduced to opportunity and means.
Keep the care in your hearts for your Marie. End all prospect of happiness for the one who took that, who took everything from her. And may God bless you all with strength and sanity in the grief that lies ahead.