Mandy Stavik’s family relocated to Whatcom County, Washington from Palmer, Alaska when Mandy was in 7th grade. Mandy had two sisters and a brother, according to the Bellingham Herald.
Mandy’s death was not the first tragedy to hit the Stavik family. Mandy’s older brother, Brent Stavik, was shot to death in 1975 during a hunting trip in Alaska when he was 17. Her step-brother, Spencer Stavik, died in a boating accident in Alaska when he was 20, according to the Associated Press.
With Mandy’s death and disappearance, her family had to endure the third death of one of their children before the age of 21.
When Mandy was in 7th grade, her family moved from Palmer, Alaska to Whatcom County, Washington. She quickly became heavily involved in school, joining band and playing in sports. She was very serious about running, and had a favorite trail, according to the Bellingham Herald. She was making the five mile run from her home to the Nooksack River the night she went missing November 24, 1989.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mandy’s Mom, Mary Stavik, Fell in Love With Whatcom County, Washington
Mary Stavik, Mandy Stavik’s mom, moved her family from Palmer, Alaska to Whatcom County, Washington when Mandy was in 7th grade. Mary’s best friend had moved to Whatcom County, and when she visited, she fell in love with the area, according to the Bellingham Herald.
Mandy’s mother is now 82 years old. She testified at her daughter’s trial in 2017, nearly three decades after she spoke at her daughter’s memorial service at Mount Baker High School.
“Mandy was a real survivor and one of our philosophies – Mandy’s and mine – was to take a bad situation, any bad situation, and try to make it a learning lesson and try to grow from it and profit from it,” Mary Stavik said at the memorial service, according to newspaper archives. “This tragedy is a real challenge to me to try to live up to that. It hasn’t been easy. But, on the other hand, I have made some friends.”
2. Mandy’s Brother, Brent Stavik, Was Shot to Death While Bow Hunting in Alaska at Age 17
Mandy’s death was the third tragic death to hit the Stavik family. In 1975, her older brother, Brent Stavik, was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest in Anchorage, Alaska. He was 17 years old. Brent Stavik was on a bow hunting trip when he died, according to the Associated Press.
“As far as the circumstances, they’ve never found any clues or any reason for the murder. He was just found shot,” Mandy’s dad, Glenn Stavik, told the news outlet.
When Mandy’s sister, Molly Brighton, heard her sister was missing, she began reliving her brother’s death, she said during her testimony.
“I was distraught. This can’t be happening to us again,” she said, according to the Bellingham Herald.
3. Mandy’s Step-Brother, Spencer Stavik, Also Died Tragically in Alaska One Year Before Mandy
Spencer Stavik, Mandy Stavik’s step-brother, also died at a young age. He was killed in a boating accident in the Kenai River in Alaska, according to the Associated Press.
Spencer Stavik died only one year before his step-sister. He was 20 years old. He was the son of Mandy’s dad, Glenn Stavik, and his second wife, the Associated Press reported.
The Kenai River is a river in south central Alaska. It is the longest river in that part of Alaska.
Investigators initially thought Mandy might have drowned in the Nooksack River, where her body was found, according to newspaper archives. The coroner ruled her cause of death a homicide, and police started a murder investigation piecing together the events leading up to Mandy’s death.
4. Molly Brighton, Mandy’s Older Sister Said The Murder Trial Felt Like Her Sister Died Twice
Molly Brighton, who testified at her sister’s murder trial in 2017, said the trial felt like her sister died twice.
“We waited 28 years and it was bittersweet,” Brighton said, according to Wenatchee World. “It’s like a wound that just won’t heal. It’s starting to heal and it’s got all this scar tissue — you can see it every day. And then all of a sudden, they literally rip the scar tissue off the wound and reopen it and so it’s this raw pain that we had to deal with all over again.”
“But I think now we can slowly start healing, growing,” Brighton added.
Mandy’s younger brother, Lee Stavik, was playing pool at a neighbor’s house the night his sister went missing. Her, too, testified at her murder trial. He said he saw her run by the house, and then head for home soon after, according to the Bellingham Herald.
5. Mandy Stavik’s Parents Were Divorced in 1974 & Her Dad Remarried
Mandy Stavik’s dad, Glenn Stavik, and mom, Mary Stavik, were divorced in 1974. Glenn Stavik remarried and lived in Anchorage, Alaska at the time of his daughter’s death, according to the Associated Press.
Glenn Stavik lost three children who all died before the age of 21. Mandy Stavik died when she was 18, his son, Brent Stavik, died when he was 17, and his son and Mandy’s step-brother, Spencer Stavik, died when he was 20.
“What struck us most about this story were the people — particularly Mandy’s mother, Mary Stavik,” 20/20 Producer Sean Dooley told the Bellingham Herald. “Mary has a quiet strength and resiliency that is palpably felt in her interview. She is someone who has had the extraordinary experience of losing two children to murder — years before Mandy was abducted and killed her older brother Brent was murdered in Alaska.”