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Search Continues For Missing 4-Year-Old In Oklahoma After Sister Found Alone By Postal Carrier

Athena Brownfield has been missing since at least Tuesday. Police are still putting together an exact timeline of her disappearance, but questions surround the location of the girl's parents during her disappearance. 

By Caitlin Schunn
A police handout of missing girl Athena Brownfield

The search continues for a 4-year-old in Oklahoma who has been missing since at least Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

A postal carrier found Athena Brownfield’s 5-year-old sister alone near their home along West Nebraska Road in Cyril around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. That postal carrier reported this to the Cyril Police Department, and it was then discovered that Athena was missing, according to the Bureau.

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Law enforcement is still working to put together an exact timeline of when Athena was last seen, the Bureau told Oklahoma City ABC station KOCO. When asked where Athena’s parents are, and exactly how long she has been missing, the Bureau told Oklahoma City NBC station KFOR that “those details are part of the investigation.” Athena’s sister is currently in protective custody, the station reported.

On Wednesday morning, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued an Endangered Missing Advisory for the little girl. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Foster told KOCO that an AMBER Alert hasn’t been issued because the circumstances surrounding Athena’s disappearance don’t meet the specific guidelines required.

A police handout of missing girl Athena Brownfield

The AMBER Alert guidelines in Oklahoma require police to believe that the child has been abducted and is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death and that there be information available "which could assist in the safe recovery of the victim and/or the apprehension of a suspect."

“We are finding things that we hope might give us clues as to where she is, and we are still actively looking for her,” Brook Arbeitman of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation told Oklahoma City CBS station KWTV.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Emergency Response Team did a grid search with volunteers on Wednesday afternoon, and searched every known vacant house and local waterway, but was unable to find anything, according to the Bureau. The Bureau posted pictures on social media of volunteers using four wheelers to cover more ground.

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Authorities also used side scan sonar to search the water and posted pictures of the searchers in boats on social media. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections further searched the area with dogs, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs flew drones over the community.

“We just know that’s innocence, and it just hits a little bit harder,” Jamie Hood, volunteer searcher, told KWTV. “These children have a lot of adults that have never met them, that are pulling for them, and hoping for the best for them. And praying for them. And they’re loved.”

Federal agencies are now moving their search outside of the Cyril area.

“We had ...  purpose to search the entire town, and that has been completed,” Foster told KFOR. “[Now] there are other resources being utilized to continue to search for her.”  

Athena’s paternal grandmother, Penny Brownfield, told KWTV neither she nor her son have been in contact with Athena or her sister for a year and a half. That's when, she alleges, the children's mother took off with them. The grandmother also said she recently learned that the children had been left with a different, distant relative.

“She abandoned her kids. She knew where I was. She knew where he was, the dad, which is my oldest son," Brownfield told KWTV. “All the sudden, boom."

"He’s not sleeping well, I’m not sleeping well, everything is jumbled into one big old ball," she added. "I pray that she’s OK.”

Brownfield told KFOR the family is trying to stay “hopeful and positive.”

According to OSP, Athena was last known to be wearing a pink butterfly sweater and pink pants. She is 3 feet tall, weighs 45 pounds, and has light brown hair and blue eyes.

If you have any information on Athena’s whereabouts, contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017 or email tips@osbi.ok.gov.