Search for missing Oklahoma girl, 4, turns to ‘recovery operation’ to find remains

The search for a missing 4-year-old girl in Oklahoma, who authorities believe was killed by her caregiver, has turned into a “recovery operation” to find her remains, officials said Monday.

The announcement from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation came after the couple who had been taking care of Athena Brownfield were charged in connection with her disappearance.

Authorities had been searching for Athena for days after a postal worker found her 5-year-old sister wandering alone last week outside their caregivers’ home in Cyril, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Highway Patrol, troopers search a pond near Cyril, Okla., on Jan. 11, 2023, for Athena Brownfield, a 4-year-old girl missing since Jan. 10. Trooper Eric Foster / AP

Ivon Adams, 36, was arrested on Thursday in Arizona and was to be extradited to Oklahoma on charges of murder in the first degree and child neglect, the state bureau said.

His wife, Alysia Adams, 31, was arrested by the Grady County Sheriff’s Office on two counts of child neglect in connection with the case, the state bureau said. It was not clear whether either had attorneys. 

Alysia Adams was related to Athena and her 5-year-old sister, the state bureau said, adding the two siblings had been in her care for at least a year.

Investigators were searching areas of Caddo County, where Cyril is based, for Athena’s remains, according to the agency.

The state bureau sought to discourage members of the public from joining the search, warning that “individuals who search for Athena on their own could be trespassing or worse, interfering with the investigation by contaminating potential evidence.”

It said the sisters’ biological parents were cooperating with the investigation and had been interviewed by authorities. Athena’s sister has been taken into protective custody, the state bureau said.

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