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From drones & helicopters to boots on the ground, law enforcement continues search for Mankato woman

After combing several areas over the last two weeks, search crews are now circling back to mucky terrain just off Highway 14.

EAGLE LAKE, Minn. — It's been two weeks and two days since 30-year-old Nyawour Chuol went missing, and the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office and Mankato Department of Public Safety insist they are not giving up the search to find her. 

The agencies held a joint press conference Wednesday to update Chuol's family and the public on their wide-ranging efforts.

Blue Earth County Sheriff's Captain Paul Barta said for the first time, county deputies walked shoulder-to-shoulder in waders through a swampy terrain previously searched only by helicopter and drone. He told reporters they'd flown over the area at least five times. On Wednesday, the team placed pink markers as they walked along to indicate where they had covered ground.

Barta told reporters there's no such thing as a "perfect search," but insisted that everyone taking part is personally invested in finding Chuol. 

"When you have an incident like this it doesn't leave your thoughts," Barta shared. "You want to bring closure to the family whether it's good news or bad news."

The captain also said that he and other law enforcement officials have had "hard conversations" with Chuol's family about the fact that she may not still be alive. 

Nyawour, whose nickname is "Sunday," was last seen on gas station surveillance video walking toward the swampy area, which leads to the waters of Eagle Lake. Officials aren't ruling anything out, but say her body likely would have surfaced by now if submerged.

"She had last been seen on the 25th at approximately 7 p.m. and she had left her residence and stated that she was going for a walk," said Chris Baukol, public safety commander for the City of Mankato.

Baukol said about a dozen tips have come through since then, but none have panned out. Searches also have not yielded any results, and none of Sunday's belongings have been located. However, officials do know her cell phone last pinged on a cell tower east of the lake near the community of Madison Lake. 

During the press conference, Chuol’s sister, Nyawaraga, said Sunday didn't show signs anything was wrong in the days before she disappeared.

"We're not going to give up until we find the answers," she said. "I want to find her but finding her [near the lake] means that she's gone, so I don't want to find her there."

She's asking the public to help spread the word even outside of the Eagle Lake and Mankato area as it's possible Chuol left, or was forced to leave. 

Barta said at this time there is no evidence of foul play, but said that doesn't mean such evidence won't surface in the future.

Family members are planning to conduct their own search Thursday and Saturday this week at 10 a.m. each day. They plan to meet at the Casey's General Store in Eagle Lake. The sheriff's office has already provided them with maps.

Anyone with any information should call 911 or Mankato Public Safety at 507-387-8744.



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