FAIRMONT — This year’s holiday season will be especially difficult for the family of the missing 78-year-old Bertha Sistrunk.
She was one of the cooks of the family, so when Christmas came around every year, everyone would get to enjoy the foods she created for her relatives.
“She was the chef of our family,” said Bill Campbell, Sistrunk’s nephew. “She could cook a lot of good Southern cuisine and I think she has been to my house probably five or six times for Thanksgiving dinner cooking for us, so it’s tough around this time.”
Sistrunk went missing the night of Sept. 29, and was last seen around 9 p.m. that night by a police officer near Windmill Park. Campbell said Sistrunk’s home is on the East Side of Fairmont, so he is not sure why she would have walked all the way across the High Level Bridge and up around the bend to Windmill Park.
“She was discharged from WVU hospital and dropped off at home at approximately 6 p.m.,” Campbell said in an interview shortly after her disappearance. “From there, the police pieced together that sometime around 8, she was seen downtown. A little bit before 9 p.m., they had got a 911 call that someone had saw an older woman walking on Ogden Avenue and thought she might need assistance.”
Zachary Buck, a detective with the Fairmont Police Department who is handling Sistrunk’s case, said the department has sent out search and dive teams, which have come up with nothing. He said any tips received by the department will be followed up on, in an effort to find the missing woman.
Campbell said communication between his family and the Fairmont Police Department has been good, and Buck has consistently updated members of the family about any searches or information received by the department.
“We certainly feel like the police department and the state police and local police are doing a good job,” Campbell said. “Detective Buck and others on the staff there, he stays in touch every couple of weeks or so. He seems to be following up on all the leads and almost everything that he hears.”
At this point, Campbell said he and his family are just waiting to hear news about Sistrunk that would give them closure on her case. She has been missing for more than two months now, and he said he is prepared to receive any kind of news about his aunt.
“We are still hopeful for closure now,” Campbell said. “The thinking is whatever news now is probably not going to be good news, but news about something is good from a standpoint of closure.”
Campbell said that while he remains hopeful for some kind of closure, he still urges everyone in the Fairmont area to keep looking out for anything unusual near Windmill Park.
“I haven’t really researched it... I guess you have to start thinking of having some kind of memorial, perhaps,” Campbell said. “Basically now in terms of family or friends, we’re asking for people to keep their eyes and ears open and perhaps they will run across something.”
Sistrunk is described on the Fairmont Police Department’s Facebook page as a 5-foot 5-inches tall Black female, approximately 170 pounds with short black hair, and she was first reported as wearing a blue and pink robe with a blue night cap and socks. Since the initial investigation, additional descriptions have included her wearing khaki pants or dark orange and khaki pants; a black/white printed or floral design shirt; possibly a purple sweater; and/or a blue/green jacket or three-quarter length tan jacket. To report any information about Sistrunk, call the Fairmont Police Department at 304-366-4200.