http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=991e3730-c59a-4bf0-9829-e5033683ac4aWhat happened to Helena Mihaljevic?
The sound of Helena Mihaljevic's cheerful voice provides some comfort to loved ones trying to hold onto their happy memories.
By The Calgary Herald July 23, 2007
(This is a very long informative article, but am posting the last half of it)
By the beginning of 2006, Mihaljevic had completed a second stint of rehab and was living with a sober, supportive friend.
Her son was still with her parents, but she saw him often, and called him every night at bedtime.
There were few signs of trouble when the family gathered to celebrate her son's birthday near the end of June, 2006.
"She seemed like she was a little bit down, like she wasn't herself," Pittman said.
Pittman went on vacation with her husband shortly after the birthday party, not knowing it would be the last time she would see her sister.
In fact, less than three weeks later -- July 7, 2006, on the Stampede grounds -- would be the last time anyone reported seeing Mihaljevic.
"We really want to zero in on that time around Stampede," said Insp. James Hardy of the RCMP major crimes unit, which is investigating the case.
Although Mihaljevic's family grew worried as the summer drew to a close, Pittman said there was, at that point, still a reasonable explanation for her absence.
"We were wondering if she fell off the wagon and got embarrassed. She was really hard on herself," she said.
"We contacted everyone she knew. We didn't care where she was -- we just wanted her back."
Even in the grips of her addiction, Mihaljevic had always kept in close contact with her family. When they didn't hear from her by September, her family filed a missing person report with the Calgary Police Service.
"It was hard to imagine she was dead, but we knew in our hearts this (behaviour) wasn't her," Pittman said.
Weeks turned into months without even a phone call, but vague signs continued to give Pittman hope her sister was alive and well.
A friend told Pittman that Mihaljevic's MSN Messenger account remained active and would often indicate she was online. Pittman sent her sister e-mail messages, but never got a response.
Like Mihaljevic's cellphone, the computer had disappeared from her apartment over the months -- either stolen or given as payment for drugs.
Pittman also received several hang-up phone calls at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007.
Considering Mihaljevic likely died a short time after her disappearance, those once-hopeful signs now seem more ominous: were they instead the actions of someone who had something to do with her sister's death?
"I feel there is somebody out there who knows who put her body there," Pittman said.
While Mihaljevic's parents, sister and friends all pondered the unthinkable in the months before her remains were found, her son just wondered where his mother went.
He was old enough to be told his mother was "sick" when he went to live with his grandparents, Pittman said.
When Mihaljevic disappeared, family members told him she had gone away to get better -- something they believed themselves at first.
But as Christmas and other holidays passed without any contact, their reassurances were less and less comfort.
"He was really beginning to think he was abandoned," said Pittman.
Telling him his mother was dead was difficult, Pittman said, but it at least laid to rest any notion she had run away.
For now, that may be enough to ease a nine-year-old's heartache. But Pittman said her nephew, too, will inevitably feel the need to know exactly what happened to his mother.
"I hope and pray that one day we'll be able to tell him more," she firstname.lastname@example.org