Desperate Search for Missing Woman
By John W. Fountain
With few clues in the disappearance of a Northwest Washington woman last seen 11 days ago, family and friends of Joyce Chiang flooded the streets with fliers yesterday, praying for answers, holding onto hope.
Chiang, 28, is a lawyer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She was last seen Jan. 9, after a friend dropped her off at 19th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW, about three blocks from the apartment she shared with a younger brother, Roger, in the 1700 block of Church Street NW, near Dupont Circle.
Yesterday, Roger Chiang described his sister as "upbeat, very warm, a very loving sister."
"She is a very hard-working, very dedicated person," said Roger Chiang, 26. "People look to her for answers."
So far, there have been no answers to his sister's disappearance.
The FBI continues its investigation but has received only a "handful of tips" that so far have not been substantive, said Susan Lloyd, an FBI spokeswoman. Federal investigators have not turned up any witnesses who have seen Joyce Chiang since she was dropped off about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 9, with plans to go to a nearby Starbucks Coffee shop.
The only piece of evidence investigators have turned up is Joyce Chiang's government identification card, found in Anacostia Park in Southeast Washington by an unidentified woman, who gave it to U.S. Park Police on Jan. 10, Lloyd said yesterday. The ID card was not turned over to the FBI until Thursday, Lloyd said.
Park Police, the FBI and INS agents searched Anacostia Park on Friday but found no more of Chiang's belongings.
In the absence of any strong clues, investigators are appealing to the public for help. FBI officials said yesterday that they would like for the unidentified woman who found Chiang's ID to contact authorities.
"We are very hopeful that someone will contact us with information as to where she might be or what might have happened," Lloyd said.
Family, friends and co-workers have mounted a campaign to raise public awareness about Chiang's disappearance. They are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts. The television show "America's Most Wanted" will air a segment about the disappearance on Saturday, officials and the family said.
Chiang, a Georgetown University law school graduate who started working at the INS in 1995, worked on an agency task force to help implement a tough 1996 immigration law, said Donald Mueller, an INS spokesman.
"Joyce was sort of the linchpin of that whole effort as a special assistant to the person in charge of that," Mueller said. "She had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of friends. She was one those kind of people who just lit up a room."
Roger Chiang said he last saw his sister Jan. 9, a Saturday. Initially, he thought she had spent the weekend with a friend, but he became suspicious when she didn't come home after work the following Monday. When he called his sister's office, he said, he learned that she had not shown up for work that day. He alerted police and began his search.
"The incredible thing about this is [that] word has definitely gotten out there," Roger Chiang said. "We're just hoping and praying."
Anyone with information regarding Joyce Chiang's whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 202-278-2382.
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company