7 years pass since Leah Harding was last seen

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 11:23 AM EDT
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NISULA, Mich. (WLUC) - This Saturday will mark seven years since a Houghton County woman was last seen.

The case of Leah Harding remains open. According to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office, 31-year-old Leah Harding of South Range was last seen April 30th, 2015. The last reported sighting of her that day was at the BP gas station in Baraga.

15 days later, Leah’s mother reported her missing, Leah had missed her daughter’s school event.

“When I really realized that something bad had happened it was during Carly’s kindergarten program, and Leah wasn’t there and I was so angry,” said Camie Harding, mother of Leah.

After Leah didn’t answer her phone, Camie went to talk to Leah’s boyfriend, Camiel VanHecke, at his work.

“Camiel was there and I said ‘where’s Leah?’ And he said ‘she’s not here’ and I said ‘What do you mean she’s not here, she missed Carly’s program’ and he said ‘No I dropped her off at your house two weeks ago, we were arguing.’ "

Detective Lieutenant Charlie Klein is the current lead detective on the case for the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office. He takes us through what followed the initial missing persons report.

“From there we started looking into her whereabouts, spoke with her significant other at the time who she was living with in South Range and followed up with several other people who were friends of hers in the Baraga/L’Anse area.”

Investigators considered VanHaecke a person of interest in the case, he is who Leah was last seen with.

VanHaecke previously served prison time for kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, and criminal sexual conduct. No charges were brought against VanHaecke related to Harding’s disappearance.

Klein won’t say if investigators have ruled out VanHaecke.

“Multiple theories could be developed throughout the investigation and we may have a person or people of interest but to protect the integrity of the investigation we’re not going to name names right now. The investigation is still open, any leads that come up, we’re going to follow.”

To move the case forward, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office is still asking the public to come forward with information.

“At some point, someone in the public will know something that we won’t and they can bring it to our attention so we can get this case closed and solved,” said Klein.

But to family and friends, Leah is more than just a missing person.

“She was the best, everything Leah went through in life she overpowered them and would not let them take control of her and it made her a stronger person and on her worst days she could make your day happy,” said Camie Harding.

If you have any information on the case you can contact the Houghton County Sheriff’s office at 906-482-0055.

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