(CYRIL, Okla.) — Remains found last week amid the search for a missing 4-year-old girl in Oklahoma have been confirmed to be those of the child, authorities said.
Athena Brownfield was reported missing earlier this month after a postal carrier found her sister wandering alone outside, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Remains found in rural Grady County, outside of Rush Springs, on Jan. 17 have been positively identified as those of Athena, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday.
The agency said it had no further comment due to a gag order filed in Caddo County District Court.
Local authorities began searching for Athena on Jan. 10, when the postal worker discovered her 5-year-old sister wandering alone and notified police, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The search became a “recovery operation,” the agency said on Jan. 16, several days after one of her caregivers was arrested on a murder charge in connection with the child’s disappearance.
Alysia Adams, 31, was arrested on Jan. 12 in Grady County, Oklahoma, on two counts of child neglect, the agency said. Her husband, Ivon Adams, 36, was taken into custody in Phoenix that day on one count of murder in the first degree and one count of child neglect, it said.
The two sisters had reportedly been in the couple’s care for at least a year, before the 5-year-old was found alone outside their home in Cyril, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Alysia Adams is related to the sisters, the agency said. Authorities did not comment on how the Adams’ became the primary caregivers of the children.
The girls’ biological parents have been interviewed by agents and are “cooperating with the investigation,” the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.
During a court appearance in Maricopa County a day after his arrest, Ivon Adams waived his right to an extradition hearing.
“I need to get there and fight this,” he told the court.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued a missing and endangered person alert for Athena on Jan. 11 to people in a 15-mile radius of Cyril, located about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said on Jan. 16 that the search was now considered a “recovery operation” and that its agents and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol were searching areas of Caddo County for the child’s remains.
Amid the search, Brook Arbeitman, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said that authorities were finding items in town that “could be relevant” and helpful to the case, though did not elaborate.
“We are finding things that we hope might give us clues,” she said.
Athena’s sister was placed in protective custody with the state after she was found, Arbeitman said.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.