BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Little mystery surrounded so much of Sharon Miller's life.
Family members described the 34-year-old Ferndale-area resident and mother of two as outgoing and friendly, to a fault at times.
While she struggled with drugs and alcohol or keeping jobs, she was always committed to loving her family, said her younger sister, Rita Ralph.
"She was relentless in her pursuit of happiness," Ralph said. "In everything she did it was to the fullest."
Even at the deepest pits of her addictions, when she couldn't be present for her children's birthdays, Miller still let them know she cared for them. She left them gifts in mailboxes outside their house, Ralph said.
More importantly, she always let her family know where she was.
So when she disappeared Thursday, July 2, 2009, her family reacted with worry and a sense of foreboding.
"Sharon always called when she wasn't coming home," said her father, Joe Ralph. "We had just assumed she had taken off for the weekend, but she just never came back."
When Miller's daughter's birthday passed in November with still no word, her family began to expect the worst.
Their fears were confirmed a month later: On Dec. 21, hunters found the skeletal remains of Miller covered by a blanket in a ravine off of North Star Road at Mountain View Road, five miles from where she lived in a motor home on her parents' property.
It's one of few facts Whatcom County Sheriff's detectives have in explaining her disappearance and death. Her body was positioned in such a way that they believe she was alive when she went into the ravine.
Despite the investigative efforts of the Sheriff's Office, questions of how Miller got to the ravine, why she left home, how she died - and if there is another person responsible - remain unanswered.
Her death remains an active case in the Sheriff's Office, but not for much longer. Barring new developments, the case will become inactive as a suspicious but ultimately unexplained death, said Sgt. Sean Crisp, who oversees the detective unit.
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