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Searching for Kaylee, Lost on the Streets of Seattle

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A year ago, Kaylee Gordon was setting up camp deep in the woods of West Seattle. “I feel safe in this spot,” she told me.

At the time, Kaylee was hopeful that her future contained a career in music. “It’s always been my passion, it’s my life,” she said. She sang, played guitar, and told me this season of homelessness was just a speed bump along her journey.

“So, this isn’t really in character for me,” Kaylee told me, saying that her beloved dog and her guitar were enough to get by.

This week, over a year later, she was spotted in Belltown entering Dan’s convenience store on Third Avenue. Without shoes, dirty, and disheveled security guard Giovanni English tried to help her out.

“We were just offering her food in the store,” English tells me. But he says something seemed off with Kaylee. She was acting erratically and saying bizarre things.

Kaylee’s dog was no longer by her side, and after reviewing the store’s surveillance footage, English says she left the store with a man and “has no way to fend for herself.”

Her family reported her missing after seeing Kaylee in my video. Brother and sister-in-law Aaron and Gabi Quick now believe she could be in danger, struggling with mental illness and drug addiction. “It sounds like she was with the wrong crowd,” remarked Gabi. “You don’t see that happy, bubbly personality.”

They’ve been working desperately to get her back home to Wyoming. “It’s pretty alarming to see how much she has changed,” says Aaron.

Kaylee spent most of her life focused on friends, family, and music in Wyoming. Gabi describes her past life as free-spirited and thriving with a “dream to go on the road and sing.”

In 2020, Kaylee decided to follow her boyfriend to Seattle, but the relationship ended and they parted ways.

Communication between Kaylee and her family stopped abruptly a few months ago.

“We have a lot of family that wants to see her again,” Aaron tells me. That’s when the Quicks started searching for clues to find Kaylee and eventually saw her in my story online.

In that video in the woods of West Seattle, Kaylee tells me “there’s a reason why I keep coming back here.”

Aaron and Gabi Quick officially reported her missing and started reaching out to local hospitals, police departments, and even the county morgue.

“It’s almost like her spirit’s been broken,” Gabi says.

Records show that Kaylee was recently picked up for shoplifting and a drug overdose in Federal Way.

When Seattle street preacher Matthew Meinecke heard about Kaylee’s situation, he joined search efforts in south King County printing out flyers and interviewing strangers.

But we ran into roadblocks at day shelters like one operated by Catholic Community Services (CCS).

“We’re desperate to try to find this woman,” Meinecke tells staff at CCS. “We’re offering a cash reward.”

Staff members said, “we’re gonna go ahead and deny them services,” saying the could not confirm or deny if Kaylee was staying there due to privacy reasons.

Friends and family face so many obstacles as they try to search for loved ones.

After hearing about Gordon’s encounter in Belltown, Matthew and I started following more leads, going to well-known hotspots like 12th Ave and Jackson in the International District.

We spent several hours searching downtown near Third Ave and Pike Street, going up and down the alleyways and talking to dozens of people who say they saw her at some point in the past few days.

“These people are dying, literally daily,” Meinecke says, “and she’s next if we don’t find her.”

Andrea Suarez of We Heart Seattle is also involved, offering to “chaperone her to a hotel which we would fund, help her get showered.”

Suarez says even if Gordon is found, convincing her to return to family is going to be the next challenge. “We need to sit down and talk with her and find out what pathway she can take until her family can get here.”

But there are no guarantees that Kaylee accepts the help. If Kaylee Gordon is watching, her family wants her to know she is still deeply loved.

“We’ll keep searching,” says Gabi, and they’re prepared to pay for any drug rehab or therapy. “We just want her to know that we love her,” says Aaron and that they’re desperately trying to bring her home.

Update – We Found Kaylee!

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.