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Child's Remains Found In Oklahoma Amid Search For Missing Athena Brownfield, Authorities Say
Oklahoma authorities say the discovery was made near Rush Springs, where one of Athena Brownfield's reported caregivers, Ivon Adams, allegedly buried the child after beating her to death.
The remains of a child have been found during the ongoing search for a missing 4-year-old in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) announced late Wednesday afternoon that they’d recovered the remains of a child in rural Grady County – about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City – as part of the search for Athena Brownfield. However, officials were unable to confirm whether the remains belonged to the missing child, pending positive identification by the Medical Examiner’s Office in Oklahoma City.
The discovery was made just outside Rush Springs, where one of the child’s reported caregivers, Ivon Neil Adams, 36, is suspected of burying the child after allegedly beating her to death on Christmas, as outlined in a recently released probable cause affidavit reviewed by Oxygen.com.
Less than 24 hours before the discovery, the OSBI announced shifting the missing persons case into a “recovery operation,” and are now calling it “a[n] active homicide investigation.”
The massive search for Athena began on Jan. 10, when a mail carrier found the child’s 5-year-old sister unattended near the girls’ West Nebraska Road residence in Cyril, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City and 20 miles northwest of Rush Springs.
The older child told authorities she wandered outside the home because she was “tired of being alone,” according to court records.
Alysia Adams, 31, whom the OSBI stated was related to the sisters, was arrested on Thursday in Caddo County, Oklahoma, on two charges of child neglect. Her husband, Ivon, was arrested the same day in Phoenix, Arizona, and has since been charged with first-degree murder.
The married couple reportedly took the children into their care one and a half to two years ago, according to the affidavit. The children’s biological parents – whose names have not been publicized by officials – “have been interviewed by agents and are cooperating with the investigation,” the OSBI announced Monday.
The older child had not been enrolled in school, and there are no records of either seeing a doctor since moving in with the Adamses, according to the affidavit.
Alysia allegedly told authorities her husband beat Athena to death at around midnight on Dec. 26, at some point holding the child down by her arms and punching her repeatedly in the chest.
“[Athena] was not moving, and her eyes were barely open,” the affidavit stated.
Alysia said Ivon left with Athena soon after and, upon returning, with allegedly claimed to have buried the dead child near a fence line at the couple’s former property in Rush Springs. Ivon allegedly claimed he left a large branch to mark the burial site.
A woman whose grandfather now owns the Rush Springs property allowed reporters from CBS Oklahoma City affiliate KWTV-DT to walk the area. According to the outlet, they observed what appeared to be a makeshift cross – presumably left by one of the investigators – where the still-unidentified child’s remains were found.
The landowner’s granddaughter asked not to be identified and spoke of Athena’s 5-year-old sister.
“I pray that she doesn’t remember this, but she’s going to know that her sister died and that she was there and she couldn’t do anything to stop it,” said the woman. “And I know that that’s gonna weigh on her. How could it not?”
The older sister remains in protective custody, according to the OSBI.
Search and Recovery volunteer Kathy Bingham told Oxygen.com that “everyone is angry and confused” in light of the recent discovery.
“We are not just sad, we are outraged,” said Bingham. “We want justice for this precious, beautiful little girl.”
“Everyone that I have talked to is really praying and seems to be even more cautious of their children and who watches them,” Bingham added. “There was absolutely no reason this should have happened.”
Ivon Adams is reportedly in a Maricopa County jail in Arizona on $1 million bond and awaiting extradition to Oklahoma, per ABC Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO-TV.
Alysia Adams remains in Caddo County and was arraigned Tuesday morning and ordered to be held on $500,000 bond, according to CBS Tulsa affiliate KOTV-DT. CNN reported a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf.
Ivon has yet to enter a plea while Alysia is expected to make a courtroom appearance in March.