Community volunteers search for missing family

A month has passed since Brandon Jividen, Rebecca Adams and her two daughters, Michelle Hundley and Jaracca Hundley, vanished from their home in Kenai.

While the Kenai Police Department has devoted all the resources at its disposal toward finding the family, to this point, the search efforts have not revealed their whereabouts. Lead investigator Lt. David Ross said without any leads to point police to a particular area, the department couldn’t continue to coordinate searches.

That did not stop Ninilchik resident Katherine Covey and Lanell Adams, sister of Rebecca Adams, from organizing a volunteer-led search. Covey, who organized the Funny River Help and Community Resource, approached Kenai police about coordinating a search party.

“I am hoping we can renew the family’s spirit and give police something to go on,” she said. “(KPD) can only do so much. It couldn’t hurt to help.”

Covey said the police have been supportive of the volunteer efforts and have provided information and maps that would aid in the search. She said she has enlisted the expertise of a few search and rescue coordinators and developed organized areas for people to explore.

A command center at the end of California Avenue was set up a couple blocks down from the missing family’s home. Everyone involved in the search wore ribbons and had to check in and out before heading out in the woods.

Volunteers on all-terrain vehicles and horseback canvassed the trails around Wildwood Correctional Facility Tuesday while a pilot Joe Dilley offered his time to fly over the Kenai and Nikiski area to help in the search. Laurie Speakman from the Alaska Moose Federation brought two horses to ride the trails.

Before the search teams started out, Kenai Police briefed the group and provided a map that highlighted previous search efforts. Areas where a scent was picked up and footprints found were identified on the map, Covey said.

Ross said the volunteers were briefed on safety issues in the woods and to be aware of bears and other wildlife.

Tuesday morning, six volunteers on ATVs broke into two groups and rode the trail in search of any clues. Some volunteers brought guns in case they came across a bear in the woods. Volunteers brought first aid kits, cell phones, and food and water to last through the day. Another group of volunteers would be available later in the day after they got off work, Covey said.

Matt Schilf, who lives in the neighborhood, said despite not knowing the family, he wanted to lend a hand any way he could. He felt his familiarity with the wooded area would be beneficial.

“When I was young I used to ride these trails back here from Kenai to Nikiski every day,” Schilf said. “In certain spots there are dense areas of trees and swampy areas. The best we can do is to keep on the trails as much as possible then go by foot.”

Sterling resident Mike Walters said he had the time available and felt he should come out and help. He said the volunteers were advised to notify the police if they did come across any clues or anything suspicious.

Ross said the department has been supportive of the family and community working together to locate the family.

“We are better able to focus our efforts on the investigation,” Ross said. “Having more people available to search can only help.”

The search will continue Wednesday, so more people have the opportunity to help, Covey said.

On Saturday, a line search for the missing family will take place at 10 a.m. at the trail at the end of California Street. Lanell Adams, who has organized the search, said she would like to see about 80 people.

Covey said all the rumors and speculation that has swirled about the family has been discouraging. She said it is important for everyone involved to consider the family missing and to not stop looking until something is found.

“Looking at those pictures and knowing two little girls are missing is breaking a lot of hearts in the community,” Covey said. “We have just jumped on with what the family started and we continue to follow their lead. We at least want to give them answers.”

Anyone interested in helping with the search can contact the Funny River Fire Help and Community Resource or Findthemissing Alaskafour Facebook pages.

https://www.facebook.com/funnyriverfirecommunityhelp

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005273987914

 

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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