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Married Caregivers In Custody As Search For Missing 4-Year-Old Continues In Oklahoma, Police Say
The massive search for Athena Brownfield continues days after her 5-year-old sister was found wandering alone near their Cyril, Oklahoma home.
Two people have been arrested in connection with a missing 4-year-old Oklahoma girl, whom they were reportedly responsible for.
Alysia Adams, 31, was taken into custody late Thursday afternoon on charges of child neglect, according to a press release by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Authorities say Adams, along with her husband, was responsible for the well-being of two sisters, one of whom, Athena Brownfield, remains missing.
The husband - identified by ABC Lawton affiliate KSWO-TV as Ivon Adams - was arrested Thursday on a fugitive from justice charge in Phoenix, Arizona, according to reports.
Court records obtained by Oxygen.com show the pair married in 2014, though how and in what capacity the couple was involved in the children’s lives remains unclear.
Authorities learned of Athena Brownfield’s disappearance on Tuesday at around 2:00 p.m. when a postal worker in Cyril, Oklahoma - about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City - found Athena’s 5-year-old sister by herself near the girls’ West Nebraska Road residence. The employee then notified local authorities, who then contacted state officials, prompting a massive search for Athena.
“The search for Athena continues,” OSBI officials wrote Thursday. “The OSBI is following every tip that is received, which are coming in from Oklahoma, as well as other states.”
Investigators are still ironing out the timeline surrounding Athena’s disappearance to pinpoint when, exactly, she vanished.
Trash services have been suspended in Cyril as searches continue, according to both state and town officials. The OSBI also announced analysts have been tasked with reviewing surveillance footage from around the small Caddo County town of about 800 residents.
Crowds of volunteers arrived in Cyril to aid in the search, according to ABC Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO-TV. Infrared helicopters and four-wheelers have also been utilized, with K-9 dogs brought in from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
“Our Emergency Response Team organized grid searches today in Cyril for missing 4-year-old Athena Brownfield. Our Troop W personnel searched bodies of water in and around the town with side scan sonar,” the Oklahoma Highway Patrol stated Thursday. “We continue to offer any and all resources to our partners at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to bring the little girl home.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Fort Sill soldiers are also assisting in the searches, according to ABC News. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs have also provided drones.
OSBI spokesperson Brook Arbeitman says they’ve been “looking nonstop” for Athena and collecting items of interest that could help provide answers.
“We are finding things around town that could be helpful in this case,” said Arbeitman. “We are finding things that we hope might give us clues on where she is. We’re still actively looking for her.”
Details about the girls’ parents remain spotty, though Arbeitman said it was “part of the ongoing investigation,” according to ABC News. The spokeswoman said whether foul play is suspected was “yet to be determined” but that the agency’s focus is finding the Athena.
“She’s a little child, and she’s missing,” Arbeitman stated. “And she’s on her own in the elements.”
Athena’s paternal grandmother, Penny Brownfield, told reporters that neither she nor her son had been in contact with Athena or her sister for about a year and a half, according to CBS Oklahoma City affiliate KWTV-DT. The woman accused the girls’ mother of running off with the children and claimed she and her son recently heard they were in the care of a distant relative.
“She abandoned her kids,” the grandmother said of the girls’ mother. “She knew where I was, she knew where he was - the dad, which is my oldest son.”
Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued an Endangered Missing Advisory (EMA) on Wednesday, though an Amber Alert was not activated because Athena’s disappearance hadn’t met the criteria, according to officials.
Athena stands about 3 feet tall and weighs about 45 pounds with light brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink butterfly sweater and pink pants.
Anyone with information - especially Cyril-area residents with Ring and security cameras - is urged to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017 or send information to email@example.com.