BOISE -- Tuesday will mark three weeks since a Boise woman went missing while hiking at the Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Authorities have already found the body of her friend and hiking partner, Amelia Linkert. Now, for the first time, we are hearing from Linkert's family.
Dr. Jo Blakeslee and Amelia Linkert visited the hiking area on September 19. Linkert's younger sister Margaret Coirier tells us it was their second trip to Craters of the Moon. She says she had just seen her sister, who was excited about her upcoming trip.
Linkert was about to celebrate her 70th birthday when she died. Linkert moved to Idaho in 2000 to help take care of a friend with health problems. She worked as a special education teacher for 10 years in the Meridian School District before retiring.
"You just miss the person for the joy they gave you in their life," said Coirier.
Her sister says she misses everything about Amelia.
"Her chuckle, her laugh, her cowboy hat. She was very close to her God, and she wanted to give back," said Coirier.
It was her desire to sacrifice for others that her sister says led Linkert to a mission trip in the 1980s where she met Dr. Jo Blakeslee.
The two become close friends over the last 30 years and were hiking together at Craters of the Moon.
Coirier believes Blakeslee fell into a cave and her sister got lost when she went for help.
"The period when they found her was gut wrenching," said Coirier.
Linkert's body was found a week later and authorities believe she died from exposure.
Coirier says it's simply a tragic accident.
"They've just done a great job of investigating and combing the area, and foul play would have shown up something," said Coirier.
As for Blakeslee, Coirier considers her like another sister, and while she doesn't believe she's still alive, she does hope she is found.
"We know that they are both out of the rocks and we know their souls are in heaven, but we don't know where Jo's body is," said Coirier. "They've gone on to heaven, so we're not grieving that they're lost, we've grieving that we'll miss them."
Over the weekend, 20 people were out walking the area, along with more dog teams, each wearing boots to protect their paws from the razor sharp edges of the lava fields.
Pictures posted on the Facebook page: "Search for Dr. Jo" show why the search of more than 10,000 miles and over 4,000 hours has still been unsuccessful.
"The lava tunnels they don't know where the bottoms are, and the crevices, and inside the caves are more caves."
If you would like to help in the search efforts to find Blakeslee, the following information has been posted by those organizing the search:
Coordinating a search effort requires a lot of resources. We are urgently in need of donations to help with logistical challenges such as (to name a few) outfitting volunteers with the appropriate tools and safety gear, assisting with lodging for volunteers coming in from out of state, and providing on the ground critical support to searchers in the form of food, water and whatever else is needed. All donations go directly to support the search effort.
Donations should be made through the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association, which is a 501(c)(3) association. Please do not send money directly to persons claiming to be family members and do not respond to outside solicitations which may be scams.
There are two ways to make a donation through the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association.
PO Box 29
Arco, ID 83213
Please make your check out to Craters NHA, and put "SAR Account" in the memo line.