Family still mourns girl's disappearance

Case remains open as investigation approaches 24-year mark

Every year around this time, Paul and Mona Blee send letters about their missing daughter, Marie, to the editors of the Craig Daily Press and the Steamboat Today.

The letter writing has become as much of a ritual for the Blees as Thanksgiving dinner is for the rest of us, in the 24 years since Marie, then 15, disappeared after attending a party in Craig.

"I want the people responsible to read that letter and know that it's time for them to step up to the plate," Paul Blee said.

He admits that this is a hard time of year for his family. They usually have Thanksgiving dinner at a cousin's house in Hayden, but the holiday is difficult.

Friday marks the 24-year anniversary of Marie's disappearance.

Marie lived and attended school in Hayden. The night of her disappearance, she'd attended a dance at the Pavilion in Craig, according to information posted online by the Moffat County Sheriff Department.

After the dance, she went to a party in Shadow Mountain Village mobile home park with Marty Doolin. Doolin told authorities that Marie left with an unidentified person around 2 am. and he never saw her again.

That's the last confirmed sighting of Marie. Some witnesses told authorities they had seen her at a Craig convenience store. But due to conflicting accounts from partygoers, Marie's movements later on that night are uncertain.

The next morning, when she still had not come home, her parents called the police and reported her missing.

At first, authorities suspected that Marie was a runaway. But her parents insisted that running away didn't fit Marie's personality.

The following week, police arrested Doolin on charges of extortion. Doolin admitted that he called Marie's parents and demanded $5,000 in ransom for her safe return, but he maintained that he was innocent of any involvement in Marie's disappearance.

In 1999, officers from the Moffat and Routt County Sheriff Department, the Craig and Hayden Police Departments, and the FBI formed a task force with the goal of finding Marie Blee.

Since then, at least two suspects connected with the case have been arrested and the task force searched three sites near Hayden for signs of Marie. But the case remains open.

The Moffat County Sheriff Department did not return calls regarding recent case developments.

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