Two families have joined together to search for a pair of missing Humboldt County women who were last seen in Fortuna several months ago.
Rio Dell and Loleta resident Sheila Franks, 37, was last seen on Jan. 11 and was reported missing on March 13. Fortuna resident Danielle Bertolini, 23, has not been seen or heard from since Feb. 8. She was reported missing on Feb. 19. Both women have blonde hair and blue eyes.
Franks' older sister and Alaska resident Melisa Walstrom is visiting the county this week to help with the investigation. Walstrom said the two women's families are working in an extremely close group, even bringing in dogs from K-9 Forensics in Edgewood, New Mexico, to help search.
"I want to bring my baby sister home. As far as we know, her and Danielle ran with the same group of people and were last seen with the same person," Walstrom said. "We searched on Memorial Day with the dogs, continued (on Tuesday) and the animals will have to leave Wednesday if they don't come up with anything. Even the tiniest bit of information can help us find them, and it's so important people come forward as soon as possible because we only have a limited amount of time with the dogs."
K-9 Forensics President Wendy Kessinger said the dogs involved in the search detect human remains and live scents.
"We're in areas of interest. It's ongoing, and we have nothing confirmed at this time," Kessinger said.
Fortuna Police Department Lt. Matt Eberhardt said both the cases are still active, and the department is working closely with the families and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the Franks investigation.
"We did a search within the city limits of Fortuna on Monday that didn't yield any investigative leads," Eberhardt said. "We welcome any and all information on both of the women."
The Fortuna Police Department encourages anyone with information regarding Franks and Bertolini to call them at 725-7550, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office at 445-7251 or the office's crime tip line at 268-2539.
The families encourage anyone with information to call the K-9 Forensics anonymous tip line at 800-782-7463, or the organization directly at 505-459-0800.
For more information about Sheila Franks and to learn about donating to her search, visit www.gofundme.com/SHEILA-SHERRELL-FRANKS.
For more information about Danielle Bertolini, visit www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.518107094968610.1073741874.367199183392736&type=1.
To learn about donating to Bertolini's search, visit www.booster.com/findingdanielle?share=6961395666825977.
Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509.