Gwen Brunelle 1995 – 2023


December 9, 1995 – June 30, 2023 (estimated)

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our daughter, Gwen Brunelle. Her remains were recovered in the high desert of Eastern Oregon in April, roughly ten months after her vehicle was found abandoned just off U.S. Highway 95 on Succor Creek Road. Gwen’s remains were located a little more than two miles from where her car was parked. The State of Oregon Medical Examiner confirmed the identification in late April. Exact cause of death is still being determined but we believe no foul play is suspected.

Gwen was a beautiful, intelligent, and talented person who had the drive and determination to achieve mastery in the things that interested her. Her chief interest and hobby was raising show rabbits and teaching students in 4-H after being a student herself for many years. She touched many young people over the years, both locally and across the nation years ago in the rabbit community. This included in 2011 when she was crowned Queen in the youth showmanship competition at the American Rabbit Breeders Association annual convention held that year in Indianapolis, Indiana. In recent years she taught 4-H students, passing along her thorough knowledge and passion for God’s small creatures. She enjoyed raising rabbits and chickens (keeping the family well-stocked in eggs), her art, and living with her boyfriend Gerald Sanderson the past six years.

There were periods of time in Gwen’s life when she encountered mental health issues. We feel she suffered from an undiagnosed psychotic illness. We believe these factors may have created a state of anxiety and confusion in her final days and ultimately contributed to her passing.

We and Gerald would like to recognize Terravatta, based in Homedale, for working with us to obtain high resolution aerial photographs of the more than 4,000 acres we continued to search late last Fall and early Winter along with Mountain States Detection Dogs. We also want to acknowledge the service and expertise of Aloft Drone Search of Portland, Oregon, for carefully reviewing the images and ultimately guiding us to the precise location. The Malheur County Sheriff’s Office was very helpful to us throughout this ordeal as well, and we appreciate their guidance and follow through.

Finally, to our family and friends and volunteers who helped in so many ways over the past 300 days, please know you have our eternal gratitude. This has been and will continue to be a difficult journey, but with your support we know we will get through it. A memorial service will be held in Boise in the coming weeks and we will provide more details soon.

Betsy and Andy Brunelle 

Gwen Brunelle 2012
Gwen Brunelle 2012