Two women disappear in Colorado within weeks of one another, leaving families seeking answers

Two women who left their home states in pursuit of new opportunities in Colorado have gone missing, leaving their families in agonizing suspense.

On August 13, Melissa Whitsitt (pictured left), a 34-year-old assistant chef at a Winter Park resort, mysteriously vanished. She had recently relocated from Tennessee to Colorado in May, hoping to broaden her career horizons.

Adding to the intrigue, an unknown man used Melissa’s phone on the same day, making calls to the Denver area. The connection between Melissa and this man remains unclear, leaving authorities puzzled.

Melissa’s father, Jerry Whitsitt, shared his concerns on a recent episode of Nancy Grace’s Crime Stories: “There was no mention of any problems, any trouble. She mentioned a few people she had hung out with, or she would tell us, you know, ‘I went hiking with some friends’ or ‘I went shopping,’ or things like that, but we never heard anything that indicated she was in trouble. She would have made us aware of any kind of trouble she was facing.”

Simultaneously, another unsettling case unfolded when 55-year-old Svetlana Ustimenko (pictured right), originally from Florida, disappeared a few weeks prior near Fraser, in the Deadhorse Trailhead area of Arapaho National Forest.

In late July, authorities discovered her rental car, a 2022 white Nissan Sentra with Louisiana plates, abandoned at the Trailhead. Curiously, the car was not due for return until August 10, and it had been sitting there “for an extended period of time,” according to the police.

Spencer McKee, Director of Content for Colorado’s OutThere, shed light on the search efforts for Svetlana: “In the case of Svetlana, we’ve been looking off-trail, and it’s been very rugged, overgrown terrain. Authorities have said that they believe that she is not located in their primary search area. So generally, whenever they do a search like this, they use a grid approach where they basically look in a certain area and move on to the next block and then the next block. And yeah, they believe that they’ve exhausted their efforts in the primary search area with dogs, drones, and beats on the ground both on and off the trail.”

Despite extensive efforts, including the involvement of numerous search teams, cadaver dogs, drones, and volunteers, Svetlana remains missing. Authorities suspended the search on August 22, awaiting any additional information that could lead to her discovery.

Nancy Grace expressed her perplexity regarding Svetlana’s disappearance, stating, “If she had been on that trail, one of those dogs would have picked it up.”

It’s worth noting that Svetlana had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and, according to a press release, was grappling with her condition and drawn to the Colorado mountains.

Families and authorities are desperately seeking information on the whereabouts of both Melissa and Svetlana. Anyone with information about Melissa is urged to contact the Fraser Winter Park Police tip line at 970-722-7779, and those with information regarding Svetlana should reach out to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 970-725-3311.

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