21-year-old Skye Budnick was in her junior year at Central Connecticut State University when she disappeared in 2008. Though it didn't take long to find clues to her whereabouts, they pointed to a place far, far away from home.
Skye visited her family on the 31st March, telling them that she was going to see a friend the next day. A few days passed with no contact from Skye, and her family quickly became concerned, reporting her missing on April 4th.
Police soon discovered that Skye had never gone to her friend's house, as she claimed. What she had done, however, was withdraw $800 from her bank. When they began to look through her computer, they found out what for. Skye had purchased a one-way ticket to Hokkaido, Japan.
Skye had been interested in Japanese culture since she was a child, and had taken Japanese language courses for three years. However, she didn't know anyone in Japan and still had only limited fluency in the language. Skye hadn't told anyone that she was leaving, and taken nothing with her but her laptop.
Skye's email inbox held another worrying clue to her fate. In her drafts, Skye had written a suicide note to her CCSU classmate Brittany Davis. For whatever reason, it had never been sent. Brittany Davis told police that she and Skye had argued just one week before she vanished, when Skye came up to her and said "her Japanese sucked".
Skye had been struggling at school, regularly sleeping through classes and making failing grades. She'd also lost the chance to live in Japan as part of CCSU's study abroad program. She'd missed the deadline before discovering that there wouldn't be another chance to do so until after she'd graduated, in 2010. Skye had always wanted to live in Japan, and told others that the only reason she hadn't dropped out of college was so she could stay part of the anime club.
Those who knew Skye said she was kind but extremely quiet and shy, and didn't seem interested in getting to know other people. She was described as a loner who didn't open up, not even to her own relatives.
Skye's sister Megan said that Skye had been showing signs of clinical depression, an illness that was common in their family. Her Facebook page showed numerous posts describing how isolated she felt, and how she was having a tough time at her job at a supermarket.
"I hate me", one post read, "I hate how easy it is to get my hopes up, and how it's even easier to send them crashing down into the abyss. Is it strange? One moment I can be fine, or even extremely happy; and then some little bad thing happens and all joy shatters and I want to die, or rip myself to shreds."
Despite her family's concerns about her mental health, Skye refused to see a doctor, telling themit was something she had to deal with on her own. She had even made the troubling comment that if she could only see the cherry blossoms in Japan, she would be able to die happy.
With all signs pointing to her having got on the flight, police in Hokkaido began to investigate. They discovered that Skye had booked into an inn on the 7th of April, telling staff there that she planned to travel to Sapporo. Her movements were like those of an ordinary tourist, making stops at spas, inns and a hot springs resort.
Police began to scour the mountains with helicopters, and Skye's family flew to Japan to help with their search. But after April 7th, not one trace could be found. Now, more than a decade later, Skye Lynn Budnick has never returned home.