From Bee archive: Missing woman’s van found

Debbie Hawk in an undated photo. The Hanford woman disappeared in June 2006.
Debbie Hawk in an undated photo. The Hanford woman disappeared in June 2006. Fresno Bee file

This story originally was published in The Fresno Bee on June 16, 2006.

Police found a clue on Thursday that only added to questions about the disappearance of a Hanford woman whose children found blood in her ransacked house two days earlier.

Debbie Hawk's vehicle was discovered on a southwest Fresno street, police said. She had been reported missing Tuesday evening by family members who couldn't find her or her vehicle, a tan Ford Freestar van.

Family members said Thursday they are trying to stay hopeful that the 46-year-old divorced mother of three children will return safely to her north Hanford home.

But they said the amount of time that continues to pass since her disappearance unnerves them.

"I hope to God she's still alive, " said Hawk's sister, who declined to give her name.

Hawk worked as a saleswoman for a pharmaceutical company, according to Hanford police Capt. David Scott. Neighbor Donald Griggs said her job involved visiting local doctors' offices with samples.

Scott said police are looking into whether her disappearance could be related to her job. He said Hawk's ex-husband is not a suspect.

Police officers who searched Hawk's home found it ransacked, Scott said. He said some blood also was found in the house, leading them to believe that it wasn't a situation where she simply left and didn't tell anyone where she was going.

There were no signs of forced entry into the home, said Scott.

Hawk is described as white, 5 feet 1 inch tall, 128 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information on Hawk's disappearance or her whereabouts is urged to call the Hanford Police Department at (559) 585-2540.

On Thursday, Hawk's missing van was discovered in the 2600 block of East Byrd Avenue between Lily and Kirk avenues in southwest Fresno, said Scott.

Byrd Avenue was taped off between Lily and Kirk while plainclothes Hanford police officers and investigators from the Kings County District Attorney's Office combed the street for any possible evidence. The officers also fanned out throughout the neighborhood, knocking on doors and looking for witnesses.

A resident in the area reported that she saw the van parked on the street for the past couple of days, and thought it was unusual, said Scott. The van's front license plate was missing and the plate of a stolen vehicle from the Hanford area was put on the back, he said, as if someone was trying to conceal the van's true origins

Hawk was not in the van. Police officers confirmed it was Hawk's by checking the van's vehicle identification number, he said. The vehicle was found with the doors unlocked and the keys inside, Scott said.

The van was towed to the California Department of Justice crime laboratory in Fresno for forensic work and and to check for evidence, said Scott. He said what appeared to be some blood was visible on the back seat of the van.

So far, investigators haven't found any clues that would explain Hawk's disappearance, said Scott.

Scott said Hawk was last seen by neighbors, who saw her leave in her van at about 8 p.m., but didn't see what time she returned home. Whatever happened to Hawk is believed to have occurred Monday night or early Tuesday morning, he said.

Hawk's sister said the missing woman talked to other relatives later in the evening. She said Hawk told them that she was tired and was going to watch a movie.

Hawk's children were with their father at the time of the disappearance, said Scott.

Griggs described Hawk and her children as good neighbors who seemed to lead a quiet life. He said he last saw Hawk Monday morning, when he introduced her to his granddaughter.

Bee reporter Louis Galvan contributed to this report.