Gotlib vanished without any trace ever being found. The FBI headed the investigation. Police investigated thousands of leads and between thirty and forty suspects over the years. Three days after her disappearance, a police dog traced a scent to the apartment of Ester Okmyansky, the grandmother of the last person to see Gotlib alive. Okmyansky said Gotlib had never visited the apartment, and after a thorough investigation of her family, police concluded the dog had been in error.
Others investigated included a sex offender who had been at the mall within an hour of Gotlib's disappearance and a serial sex offender who had an alibi.
An often repeated conspiracy theory held that Gotlib had been abducted by the Russian government to force her parents to return to their country of origin. Both FBI and the Gotlib family had dismissed this theory. Another theory was that she had left voluntarily after having trouble adapting to life in the United States. Investigators and her family dismissed this as well, saying she gave no indications of anxiety prior to the disappearance, and if she had run away voluntarily she likely would have taken some money or possessions, and made contact eventually.
In 1990, Texas Death Row inmate Michael Lee Lockhart claimed to have killed Gotlib and buried her body at Fort Knox and eventually provided a map of the burial site, but after a thorough investigation police found no physical evidence to verify the claim.
Up through 2008 the Louisville Metro Police Department still listed the disappearance as an open case. Nevertheless, it was considered a cold case due to the amount of time that had passed. The investigation documents fill four filing cabinets.
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