On Valentine’s Day in 2019, Kaelyn Schneider’s mom Tracy Day went missing in Juneau. And for a long time, Schneider felt like her mom’s story disappeared, too.
But Schneider and her family haven’t given up on finding out what happened to Day.
“You know, my grandma wanted to find my mom so bad. And she never was able to find out what happened before she passed away,” Schneider said.
Day is Lingít from the Deisheetaan clan. Schneider said that Day’s case, like other cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, didn’t get the attention it needed from the community or law enforcement.
But one day, Schneider was scrolling through TikTok and saw Danielle Dell’Olio’s account. Dell’Olio has focused on true crime, and she featured Schneider’s mom. Schneider remembered feeling so happy that someone knew about her mom and was talking about her.
Eventually, Dell’Olio messaged Schneider and they became friends. And she encouraged Schneider to make videos. Schneider had made makeup videos in the past — but after Day went missing, she stopped.
She decided to start making videos again to talk about her mom using TikTok. At first they didn’t get a lot of traction. She was mostly making images with text over them, not talking about it in front of a camera. And then someone commented on her video that they thought her case wasn’t real.
“So I was like, ‘Alright, I need to sit down and make, like, a full video.’ And I sat down, and I filmed 50 videos in one go, talking about her story from beginning to end,” Schneider said.
She got about 2000 followers, but after that the momentum slowed down. She started doing skincare and makeup videos too.
But it wasn’t until she started doing ASMR videos that she got a following. When Schneider started doing ASMR livestreams, she got about 40,000 followers in the course of a month.
And she started to mention her mom during her ASMR videos.
“What I started doing was, every time I would be doing my ASMR, right, and then as my view count would go up, I would just say, ‘Hey, guys, like, just so you know, if you’re new here, Hi, my name is Kaelyn. I’m Alaska Native, I’m Lingít. And my mom is a missing person,’” Schneider said.
Then she would go back to ASMR.
“This is ASMR. People came here to relax,” Schneider said. “A lot of the time when I talk about it, my view count goes down. But I don’t, I’ve managed to use it in a way where I just sprinkle it in.”
And people started to ask her about what happened to Tracy Day. She still does full videos about her mom. But a lot of her viewers watch ASMR videos to relax and go to bed. So she doesn’t talk too deeply about her mom in those videos.
Schneider wishes that it didn’t take a big social media following to raise awareness about her mom. She wishes that Day’s missing persons case got the attention it needed right away.
She said she doesn’t know what else she can do besides talk about her on social media — that it’s one of the only tools she has.
She said that even if nothing comes from it, at least she tried to do something to find her mom. And maybe it’ll help another family of a missing and murdered Indigenous person.
On Monday, Feb. 14, the three year anniversary of Tracy Day’s disappearance, Schneider is organizing a vigil for her and other families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. It’s at 5 p.m. at Overstreet Park.
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