Monday, August 1, 2011

Missing Portage woman would have been 27-years-old

WINNIPEG - On July 28 Amber McFarland would have celebrated her birthday alongside her identical twin sister Ashley. The Portage woman, who vanished three years ago, on Oct. 18, would have been 27-years-old.

“It’s a tough day for her twin sister and we all just wanted to be there for her,” said Lori McFarland, Amber’s mom, who took the day off from work to be with her family.

Last year on Amber’s birthday, the McFarlands remembered their missing daughter and sister by plastering missing posters of her all over the city. These posters of a smiling Amber in the teal mock-neck shirt have become a fixture in many shop windows and bulletin boards around Portage.

This year, since most of the posters are still intact and in good condition, the McFarlands opted to spend the day together quietly, focusing on Amber’s twin sister Ashley, who has an especially difficult time when this day rolls around.

“Any family that’s lost a loved one, those days are memorable. You remember those birthdays and those special days and that person’s on your mind,” Lori said. “In our case we just don’t know what to think, like where she is or what happened to her.”

Lori said she believes that there are people in Portage who know something about her daughter’s disappearance. Her hope is that those people come forward with the information they have, even if they feel it isn’t important.

“They might not know everything, but they know enough to make a difference — any little detail could make a difference, and if they have some information, they should be coming forward with it,” she said.

“While she’s missing someone is going about their life scot-free, walking freely among us. Walking freely among girls from other families. It should still be very much on everybody’s mind that there is a perpetrator that’s just left to go about his business.”

Lori maintains that Amber’s case will be solved one day, she just hopes that it happens when the family is all around and together to support one another.

Vibrant and caring

“I just hope it’s not before both parents are dead and there’s not just one lone sibling to take the news,” she said. “You know, like many years from now.”

Amber, as her family remembers her, was a vibrant and caring woman with a free spirit, who spoke her mind and always stuck up for the downtrodden. She had a flare for fashion and design, and was dreamy about one day having a career as an interior designer.

At the time of her disappearance, Amber worked at Mark’s Work Wearhouse and was about to start a second part-time job at Tavern United, located in the Canad Inns Hotel on Saskatchewan Avenue.

“She showed a lot of potential, that girl. She had a big heart and a lot of ambition,” Lori said.

Amber was last seen leaving the Cat and the Fiddle Nite Club on Oct. 18, 2008. Surveillance video from the vendor at the Midtown Motor Inn showed Amber buying beer with two men, before reportedly leaving with an ex-boyfriend.

Car found in parking lot

Amber’s car was found in the Canad Inns parking lot, where she had left it the night before. Her purse and cellphone have never been located.

Anybody with any information about Amber McFarland’s disappearance are asked to call the Portage la Prairie RCMP at 204-857-4445 or Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS

“I think she’s just waiting; she’s just waiting for somebody to find her, somebody to come forward. She’s just patiently waiting,” said Lori. “That’s what I feel.”

NOTE: A story I wrote for the Portage Daily Graphic.

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