Where Is Sara Bushland? New Details About The Unsolved Case Of A Girl Who Stepped Off A Bus And Was Never Seen Again

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Where Is Sara Bushland? New Details About The Unsolved Case Of A Girl Who Stepped Off A Bus And WAs Never Seen Again

When it comes to cold cases and unsolved mysteries, we always hope there will be justice and closure for the families of the victims. From 1980 to 2008, there were over 185,000 unsolved murders alone, leaving questions unanswered and loved ones’ lives turned upside down. And there’s one case that’s as puzzling as it is heartbreaking. 

Who is Sara Bushland? Twenty-three years ago in Wisconsin, 15-year-old Sara stepped off her school bus and hasn’t been seen since. April 3rd marked the 23-year anniversary of her disappearance. But where is Sara Bushland?

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Two years prior, Sara moved in with her mother and her stepfather, moving from Colorado to Wisconsin. Her mother, Marie, stepfather, Jim, and her two stepbrothers, Dean and David, lived in the home.

Her sister, Lesley, was 17 at the time, recalled that growing up in the home wasn’t easy for Sara but she eventually made friends and started dating a man five years older than her. In a diary later obtained from the home, Sara wrote about abuse at the hands of Jim. Could he have caused her death?

On that morning in 1996, Sara’s sister Lesley said the day began like any other. Then a high school sophomore, Sara’s step-brother gave her a ride to her friend’s house; she and her friend then walked to school. Around noon, Sara’s boyfriend, Travis, picked her up and spent their lunch break together, and she returned to school, finished the day, and headed home on the school bus.

Students recall seeing Sara get off the bus around 4PM at her usual stop, and walked up her family’s driveway. But she never made it into the house.

A little over 30 minutes later, her step-brother David called his father to tell him that Sara didn’t come home. When her mother found out, she immediately returned home from a trip she and her husband were on that day. The family continued to worry and called Sara’s friends. Marie visited Travis’ apartment and reported her daughter missing the next day.

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What was worry and fear eventually became calm, at least according to Lesley. She told Dateline, “My mom would basically tell me that I didn’t need to worry. This wasn’t a big event. And I’ve since been told that she was reported without a sense of urgency. I don’t understand it. No matter how your child disappeared, it should always be urgent. But at 17 years old, I just listened.”

Investigators didn’t initially even search for her. Instead, they treated her case as a runaway teenager.

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But in July 1999, three years after Sara's disappearance, authorities conducted their first search of her mother and stepfather’s property. They also combed through the dumpster on the property and dragged the nearby lake the following summer. In 2013, they did another search of the property. And in 2017, a week after Sara’s stepfather passed away, they searched the property once more. Each time, they discovered nothing.

According to Lesley, “The case has changed hands so many times. And each new detective assumes that the last group took care of it and looked into all the evidence. It’s awful. At 17 years old, I believed law enforcement was doing everything it was supposed to be doing. It affects me every single day... I will never give up hope that she’s still out there; there’s no evidence to say otherwise. I wouldn’t look poorly on her had she left. I won’t give up. I’ll continue to help find answers for Sara.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.