MANKATO, Minn. — Search efforts continued in Blue Earth County on Friday for 30-year-old Nyawuor James Chuol, who disappeared from the Mankato area nearly two weeks ago.
Using an ATV and other land equipment, sheriff’s investigators canvassed the ground near Eagle Lake throughout the afternoon, while a State Patrol helicopter hovered above a rural stretch of Highway 14. Chuol has not been seen since the evening of April 25, when surveillance video from a Casey’s General Store showed her walking toward the highway, about seven miles east of downtown Mankato.
Chuol’s sister, Nyawaraga, printed a new batch of flyers on Friday, hoping to post them in as many public spaces as possible.
“She’s out there somewhere. I know that she’s out there somewhere,” she said. “Call in with any tips – small or big, it doesn’t matter. We need to get the word out there because she needs to be found.”
In an interview, Nyawaraga described her sister as loving and outgoing, known to many by the nickname “Sunday.” Born in South Sudan, the family came to the United States in the early 1990s, settling first in South Dakota before moving to Minnesota in 1997 when their father accepted a pastorship position in the Twin Cities.
“We’ve gone through a lot – coming to the U.S., dealing with a new language, new culture, new everything. And also trying to deal with what the past was like, experiencing hardship in South Sudan,” Nyawaraga said. “It’s devastating that this is happening. We want whatever help is out there, to be provided.”
On Monday, May 9, the BCA announced that Chuol is known as Nyajouk in the South Sudanese community and officials added that she was last seen wearing a pink hat, blue jacket, black leggings and brown boots, with a white or tan over-the-shoulder bag.
Nyawuor, a graduate of North Park University in Chicago, had most recently been living in Mankato and working in the manufacturing and printing industry before her disappearance.
According to her sister, Nyawuor took an Uber to the Casey’s in Eagle Lake on April 25, although she does not believe she picked that destination for any specific purpose or to meet anyone in particular.
“I don’t know what her mindset was that night,” her sister said. “I don’t think it was planned. She would have packed more stuff if she was leaving.”
Capt. Paul Barta of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office said there is no indication, at this point, that any foul play was involved. Although the case originated with the Mankato Department of Public Safety, the sheriff’s office joined the search after surveillance video showed Nyawuor in Eagle Lake on the night of April 25.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and investigators from the sheriff’s office have also searched the waters of Eagle Lake throughout the week.
“Two days ago, we had our larger boats in with sonar, working the area, to determine if anything was in the lake,” Barta said. “We didn’t find anything indicative of someone being underwater in that area.”
Law enforcement agencies remain hopeful that Nyawuor is still alive.
“In my heart of hearts,” Barta said, “I remain optimistic.”
Anyone with any information should call 911 or Mankato Public Safety at 507-387-8744.
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