Search for missing 4-year-old girl becomes ‘salvage operation’ in Oklahoma

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The search for a missing 4-year-old girl in Oklahoma is now being considered a “salvage operation” to find the toddler’s remains, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Jan. 16.

Officials have been searching for Athena Brownfield since Jan. 10, when a postal worker found Athena’s 5-year-old sister wandering alone outside their caretakers’ home in Cyril, Oklahoma. Athena was last seen on Jan. 8, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

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Oklahoma State Highway Patrol

On Jan. 12, Athena’s relative and caretaker, Alysia Adams, 31, was arrested on two counts of child neglect related to the disappearance, according to the state bureau.

A second caretaker and Adams’ husband, Ivon Adams, 36, was arrested the same day in Phoenix, Arizona, the state bureau said, and faces a charge of first-degree murder and a charge of child neglect. He is awaiting extradition to Oklahoma.

The agency said the two girls had been in the Adams’ care for “at least a year” and that their biological parents were cooperating with the investigation. Athena’s sister has been taken into custody, the state agency said on Jan. 13.

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Authorities arrested two people in connection with the girl's disappearance as they continued to search for her on Friday, January 13, 2023.  (Trooper Eric Foster/AP)

Authorities arrested two people in connection with the girl’s disappearance as they continued to search for her on Friday, January 13, 2023. (Trooper Eric Foster/TBEN)

The agency said on Jan. 11 that a team from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had searched “the entire city, every known vacant home and local waterways” with local volunteers. Search dogs and drones were deployed the same day, according to the agency.

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On January 12, garbage service was suspended in Cyril, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Bureau special agents, along with officers from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, are now searching Caddo County for the toddler’s remains.

Investigators urged the public not to search for Athena themselves because they could “enter trespassing or worse, interfere with the investigation by contaminating potential evidence.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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