ANACONDA — Friends and family of a 41-year-old Anaconda woman missing since Dec. 26 will come together one month later, on Jan. 26, for a special celebration-of-life ceremony as they begin the healing process.
But that’s not to say volunteers are finished searching for Tammy Salle. Not by a long shot.
Search parties continue to double- and triple-check the areas already searched by police, according to organizer Dona Simmons, with people looking everywhere from Anaconda to Missoula.
While their efforts have come up empty so far, Simmons said they will not quit until Salle is returned home and her family can cope with the loss.
“They do know she is no longer with us, so it is a process of recovery by bringing her home,” Simmons told the Montana Standard. She didn't elaborate.
Police initially questioned Salle’s boyfriend, John Goldberg, who told officers they had an argument on Dec. 23 before she left in a 2009 Pontiac Grand Prix.
The car was later found on a frontage road near Deer Lodge with a shredded tire but no sign of Salle.
Goldberg, 38, was found dead Dec. 29 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his pickup at a truck stop west of Missoula. His suicide note mentioned Salle but gave no indication of her whereabouts, according to authorities.
Anaconda police have found black garbage bags containing bloodied towels and throw rugs in trash containers used by Goldberg, and the state Department of Criminal Investigation also detected possible traces of blood in the bed of Goldberg’s truck.
The evidence remains at the state crime lab for analysis. Anaconda Police Chief Tim Barkell has said the department will continue to investigate all new leads.
Officers have already searched areas including Lost Creek, Garrity Mountain, Georgetown Lake, the Skalkaho and Rock Creek areas west of Philipsburg and out to Drummond. Still, volunteers are confident they can find something they overlooked as the snow melts or is blown around in the wind.
“They are very determined,” Simmons said. “We’re not giving up hope.”
The Jan. 26 ceremony is an opportunity for the family to meet with Salle’s friends in Anaconda and thank them for everything they’ve done. Between 30 and 40 family members are traveling into town from around the country, Simmons said.
“(Tammy) is missed greatly and deeply by her family,” Simmons said. “They just need some type of closure.”