Families of missing persons from Mankato voice concerns about police inaction

The families of Wendy Khan and Sunday Chuol are calling on police to establish a timeline to help guide and expedite future missing person investigations.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 7:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:12 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Last week marked four years since the disappearance of Wendy Khan.

“She missed my 21st birthday, my college graduation, I just had a son that was born,” Khan’s daughter, Anesiah, said. “Obviously, it’s not her fault, but she’s missed all these milestones that you’d expect your mom to be at and not gone because she’s 51.”

Aneisah is searching for answers, but she said she doesn’t think they’ll come from the Mankato Department of Public Safety.

“They’re saying they’re doing everything they can, the best that they can, but it doesn’t feel like that,” Aneisah added.

Aneisah says she doesn’t believe her mother’s case was taken seriously from the start.

“I reported her missing on a Sunday night. My dad came with me, so her ex-husband, and I was showing them [the investigators] text messages between my mom and her boyfriend, and they had gotten into this argument,” Aneisah explained. “They just kind of like laughed it off and were like ‘your mom’s playing the victim,’ and I’m like ‘how can you say that when I’m filing a missing person report?’”

Ny Chuol said her family had a similar experience when her sister, Sunday, went missing this April.

Her mother called the next day to report her disappearance.

“No one gave her a card, no one gave her a badge number, or a case number or anything to look on,” Ny stated. “She just kept calling 911.”

Both families said they begged for information throughout the investigations.

“They were like, ‘you know, her case is still open, but it’s not a top priority case right now,’” Aneisah said.

“If it wasn’t for me reaching out through a phone call, then an email, then I’ll get a call back – maybe, and when you do get a call back, they make you feel like you’re in the way or whatever, and you’re just wanting an update,” Ny explained.

Associate Director of Public Safety Resources Dan Schisel was asked about Sunday’s disappearance two days after she was last seen.

“This is an adult we’re talking about, and adults can, you know – unless there’s different circumstances – adults can choose to go places and do things,” Schisel said.

It wasn’t until four days after her disappearance a flyer was issued by authorities, and the case was considered urgent.

Nyawuor James Chuol was last seen around 7 p.m. Monday, April 25, 2022, in Mankato, Minn. She...
Nyawuor James Chuol was last seen around 7 p.m. Monday, April 25, 2022, in Mankato, Minn. She was wearing a blue jacket, black leggings and brown boots. Chuol is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs around 120 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call the Mankato Department of Public Safety at 911 or (507) 387-8744.(Facebook/Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office)

“It’s not hard to create a poster and share it around, because other people will share it, and it will get around faster instead of waiting multiple days to get something out,” mentioned Taryn Wishcop Mansfield, the owner of Hope for the Lost, an organization that raises awareness about unsolved missing person cases.

Mansfield said all cases are urgent, but Assistant Director of Operations Jeremy Clifton said there are a few factors at play.

Clifton: “You could categorize someone being called in as missing on whether or not that should be labeled as a high risk, a moderate risk, or a low risk, if you’re going to use those categories,” Clifton said. “Those aren’t categories we use.”

Meghan Grey: “What do you guys use? Is it all one? I honestly just don’t know.”

Clifton: “It’s not all one. I would say that you’re basically on a sliding scale. We don’t use a scale. There’s really not a scale that we use in order to predict – we’re going to look at the totality of all of the life circumstances and all of the factors leading up to a disappearance in order to gauge or determine whether or not the person’s disappearance is problematic.”

Both families said investigators didn’t go far enough to learn about their missing loved ones.

“I don’t want any family member to go through what we had to go through to humanize her when she’s already human to people who seem to not care,” Ny stated.

The public release of the flyer was one of several delays the families pointed out.

“Not days, not weeks, – we’re talking really about – as hours of time go on, it heightens our need to go employ more resources to go find an individual,” Clifton explained.

Contrary to Clifton’s remarks, it took police one week in Wendy’s case and two weeks in Sunday’s to bring in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

MG: “Do you guys exhaust your options until you discover like ‘hey, we should reach out to more agencies?’ or what hoops do you have to jump through before making that decision to get everybody involved?

Clifton: “There’s not really any hoops I would say, and it’s not necessarily exhaustion. It’s dependent upon the case perhaps and the evidence that’s been presented.”

Local agencies can request assistance at any time according to the BCA.

Both Aneisah and Ny tried taking the searches into their own hands, but their resources were limited.

“We ended up contacting the F.B.I. because we were like they aren’t even looking into anything,” Ny mentioned.

The search for Sunday came to an end when a canoeist found a body in Eagle Lake 18 days after she disappeared.

Ny is calling on police to continue investigating what caused her sister’s death.

“I hate that these are the questions that these are some of the questions I’m thinking while I’m trying to grieve my sister’s death,” Ny added.

The body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner.

The search for Wendy is still ongoing.

“Using the anniversary date, of marking the day that she was last seen or around that day, are important timelines for us to remember, but also to never forget and have us move forward,” Clifton said.

Mansfield disagreed, stating, “It should be every day. You should keep sharing it. It shouldn’t have to be on an anniversary. It has to be keep getting shared around so people can’t forget and they can keep looking.”

Aneisah is asking authorities to do more searches and pin down a potential suspect.

“I’m just going to live like this the rest of my life? That’s not fair. I think they’ve kind of just given up,” Aneisah said.

Mankato Public Safety officials said Wendy’s disappearance is still an open investigation.

Final autopsy results are still pending on the body that was found in Eagle Lake, which is believed to be Sunday Chuol.

Both families said they are calling on police to establish a timeline to help guide and expedite future missing person investigations.

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