Hoping to bring a missing La Crescenta woman home before she turns 21, her family is offering a $250,000 reward to anyone with information concerning her whereabouts.
Missing since Jan. 28, friends and family of 20-year-old Elaine Park hope the reward will compel someone to come forward with information about her disappearance sooner rather than later. The reward was announced during a press conference Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.
"We firmly believe that Elaine did not commit suicide, and she's not a runaway," said Jayden Brant, a private investigator hired by the family, during the press conference. "It's our strong contention that Elaine Park is an involuntary missing person and that foul play is involved in her disappearance."
Brant said more information is needed to fill in gaps surrounding her disappearance. He also said the reward's donors placed a stipulation on the money.
In order for someone to collect it, they must come forward before midnight on Sept. 15 with information. Park's birthday will be Sept. 24.
Park's mother, Susan, said she couldn't express the gratitude she feels for the support she's received from the community since her daughter's disappearance. She called losing her the "hardest thing a mother can experience," especially because she doesn't know what happened.
"You can't imagine what it's like going through so much pain that your heart is numb, and I hope any mother should not have to experience it," Susan Park said. "Sometimes it's hard to believe that this really happened."
Friends of Elaine Park described her as a kindhearted person, willing to help anyone in need. Taylor Hill, who has known Elaine Park since kindergarten, said she was shocked at the news of her disappearance.
"Disbelief, it was 100% disbelief [that she went missing]," Hill said. "Elaine has always been very smart, not just book smart but very street smart as well. Something like this was very not in character for her."
Elaine Park was last seen leaving her ex-boyfriend's Calabasas home around 6 a.m. on Jan. 28. Two days later, her car was found parked along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, according to the Glendale Police Department.
Several personal items were found inside the vehicle including keys, a cellphone and a laptop.
An air, ground and sea search was conducted by deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but they were unable to find any sign of her. The search was eventually suspended, with Glendale police saying in early February there weren't any new leads or suspects in Elaine Park's disappearance, so the investigation was refocused to interview people close to her.
Brant said during the press conference that there are, in fact, active leads being pursued and suspects are being looked at. He said he's been working in conjunction with the Glendale Police Department and the sheriff's department.
However, Brant declined to provide any details, citing the active nature of the investigation.
Sgt. Robert William, a spokesman with Glendale police, said he was aware of Brant's comments regarding leads and suspects but that the department does not have any themselves.
"[We] don't have any active leads or suspects, in fact we don't have any persons of interest," he said. "What [Brant] has given to detectives were just speculation and theories."
William said detectives looked into the information that was provided to them by Brant but were unable to find any evidence indicating that Park's disappearance was criminal in nature.
He said the case remains open and active in terms of her being a missing person.
Standing 5 feet 6 and weighing approximately 125 pounds, Elaine Park is described as having long brown hair. She has the image of a cow's skull tattooed on her upper left arm and another tattoo on the lower part of the same arm.
Anyone with information about her disappearance can call (800) 551-3080 or go online to elainepark.tips.
Glendale police can be contacted at (818) 548-4911.
4:45 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the Glendale Police Department.