ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Michelle Appel is hoping to solve a big Alaska mystery with a colorful past.
She's hoping someone will help her track down the Anchorage customer who rented a king-size, kids-only bounce house from her in 2012 - and then bounced with it.
Appel and her husband, Adam, own For Fun Alaska, an inflatable games rental business. Two years ago, they spent $4,000 for a "Big Big Bouncer," an inflatable structure 25 feet wide, 20 feet deep and about 15 feet high, Appel said, decked out in primary colors.
"It was just a monster," she said Thursday.
It had been used only a couple of times when a woman on June 30, 2012, paid $400 on a credit card to rent the Big Big Bouncer and a generator for one day, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Police reported the bounce house was intended for a boy named Andre who was turning 5 and "partying with 30 of his best friends" at the Dave Rose Park. Along with the Big Big Bounce and the generator, Appel provided a tent, tarps and foam mats.
"I gave her a really good deal on it," she said.
On July 7, two women picked up the structure that deflates down to 3.5 feet in diameter and 5 feet tall. It was due back at 8 p.m., but it never arrived.
The Appels tracked the customer to her home. No one answered the door, and neighbors said the residents had just moved or been evicted. The Appels handed out fliers at the park with a bounce house photo. No luck.
The woman who rented the house canceled her credit card.
"She went to great trouble not to have to deal with this," Michelle Appel said.
The loss of the bounce house, generator and other items was nearly $7,000, she said.
Adam Appel's theory of the disappearance is that the Big Big Bouncer was destroyed at the party, and no one wanted to claim responsibility.
Michelle Appel says it's the only time a customer didn't return a rental since her mother began the business in 1991.