By Pat Maurer
The body of a 34-year-old woman who was staying in Ogemaw County, Sara Elizabeth Burns, missing since January 9th, was found last Saturday (January 28th) near Leota not far from where her empty van had been found and towed by the Clare County Sheriff’s Department 17 days earlier, a press release update said.
Sara was reported missing on January 17 in Ogemaw County, where she had been staying. At the time they found and towed the empty van on January 11th, the Clare County Sheriff’s Office had not been notified that the van had been “flagged as important to law enforcement,” an earlier release from Clare Sheriff John Wilson said.
Ogemaw County Sheriff Brian D. Gilbert said in a press release that Burns left her previous residence in the Houghton Lake area and had been staying in the Prescott area in the southeast corner of Ogemaw County and was last seen there on the 9th. Reportedly she was sighted in Harrison on January 11th.
Ogemaw County notified the Clare County Sheriff’s Department that she was missing January 23rd and as soon as Ogemaw investigators found out that Burns’ van had been located by Clare County, they arranged for the remote and wooded area where it was found to be searched.
A massive hunt was organized on the 23rd between the two departments using tracking dogs and drones to search the area where her van had been found in northwestern Clare County.
A search team located her body the following Saturday not far from where the van had been abandoned.
Sheriff Wilson reported that they have been in contact with Sara Burn’s family and have offered their condolences to her family and friends. He said, “This closure to the family could not have happened without the help of the search and rescue teams, law enforcement agencies, family, friends and the local community,” adding that, “The Clare County Sheriff’s Offices wants to extend a sincere thank you to all the organizations that helped: Alpena County Search and Rescue; Alliance K-9 Search and Rescue; K-9 One; Lapeer County Search and Rescue; Michigan Independent Search and Rescue; Michigan Search and Rescue; Wolverine Search and Rescue; Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office; Clare City Police Department; the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; The Trails End Pit Stop; the Trails End Bar; the Leota Motel; the Leota Community Church; Harrison Community Fire Department; and the Clark-Stocking Funeral Home.
A cause of death was not given. Another media source said the Sheriff’s Office was waiting for the results of an autopsy.