When Kenai resident Dennis Gifford heard his niece Rebecca Adams, two daughters and boyfriend were reported missing he went out into the woods near their North Kenai residence and yelled out their names. Despite the swarm of mosquitoes that pestered Dennis Gifford and his daughter Audre Gifford they were determined to find them.
It has been two weeks since the family last talked to Rebecca Adams. The last phone conversation with her sister Lanell Adams, happened around Memorial Day weekend. Lanell Adams flew up from Washington State to aid the search, which has expanded every day with no trace of the family of four or the family dog.
Gifford said the more the family tries to piece clues together it is still a mystery.
“We have talked about it for hours trying to think what clues…anything leading up to them leaving,” he said. “We just can’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Along with 22-year-old Rebecca Adams are her two daughters Michelle Hundley, 5, and Jaracca Hundley, 3, and Adams’ boyfriend Brandon Jividen, 37.
What started with a few family members has grown to a community wide search effort in the surrounding ground area from their apartment on California Avenue. The Kenai Police Department has organized the search with the assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, search and rescue teams, the Kenai and Nikiski Fire Departments, Kenai Peninsula Borough volunteer teams and the National Guard stationed in Kenai.
Investigators have used ribbons on trees to mark searched areas and have taken advantage of long hours of daylight. Dennis Gifford said he has been hanging posters from Cooper Landing to Kasilof and said everyone in the community has been supportive. He thanked the police for their diligent search efforts.
“Last night (Tuesday) I came to the police station at 10:30 p.m. and police were still here working,” Gifford said. “They have been doing an incredible job.”
On Wednesday, Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl said there had been no significant information to add after his third day of briefings. A specialized canine scent detection team from outside Alaska will arrive Friday to search the wooded areas through the weekend. He asked members of the community to not search on their own because it would disrupt their efforts.
“We will need the wooded areas and trails cleared to allow the canine team to effectively do their job,” Sandahl said. “We urge people to please refrain from any proactive searches for that sustained period of time.”
While police authorities will not get into specifics on the information they have gathered in their investigation, little is known about Jividen before he moved to Alaska from West Virginia. According to Department of Defense data, Jividen served in the United States Air Force from May 1997 to May 2001.
Lanell Adams said Jividen and her cousin Rebecca Adams had been in a relationship for about a year in a half.
Dennis Gifford said Rebecca Adams was born and raised in Alaska. Her daughter Michelle Hundley attended Kindergarten at Mountain View Elementary School.
“Every couple goes through issues and disagreements but nothing that red flagged us…but normal couple stuff,” Dennis Gifford said. “We don’t understand what could have happened.”
He said the family being gone this long is not like them.
“(Adams) was very responsible and a great mother,” he said. “This is just so out of character.”
Despite so much uncertainty as each day passes with no knowledge of their whereabouts, Dennis Gifford said they remain hopeful they will return safe.
“We have days one of us goes dark and thinks the worst, but the rest of us are there to cheer them up and get back to thinking positive,” he said. “I’m hoping they will roll in and go ‘what in the world is going on’ and we are all embarrassed this happened. That’s OK we will hug them and kick their butts later.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org