Luhk sisters’ mysterious disappearance marks 9th year

COVID-19 pandemic scuttles Mass of special intention for the first time

File photo shows Elbert Quitugua, his mother, and his family praying during a Mass of remembrance for his granddaughters Faloma and Maleina Luhk at the St. Jude Church in Koblerville on May 24, 2018. (Ferdie De La Torre)

The mysterious disappearance in As Teo, Saipan of sisters Faloma and Maleina Luhk marked its ninth year last Monday with still no trace of their whereabouts.

Also, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no Mass of special intention or remembrance for his missing grandchildren this year—a first—said Elbert Quitugua in a phone interview yesterday. “We cannot even go to church,” he said.

Instead, the family prayed at the makeshift shrine that they had built on the spot in As Teo where the Luhk sisters were last seen in the morning of May 25, 2011.

The family cleaned and repainted the shrine prior to last Monday.

Quitugua said it’s been nine years already since that fateful morning, and that Maleina and Faloma would have been 18 and 19 years old now, respectively. “We are still praying that somebody will come forward to [give a] closure to this case,” he said.

He has not heard anything from the Federal Bureau of Investigation since last year.

The family built a little shrine near a public school bus shelter along As Teo Drive corner Santa Lourdes Road in As Teo, where the Luhk sisters were last seen. The sisters’ house is located a few meters from the school bus shelter.

Faloma and Maleina were 10 and 9 years old, respectively, at the time of their disappearance. Their mother is currently in the U.S. mainland, while their father was last reported in Chuuk.

At that time, the FBI, Department of Public Safety, other law enforcers, and volunteers on Saipan combed through large swaths of Saipan for about a month to look for the sisters but no trace of their whereabouts were found.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.