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Alaska News

Family seeks public’s help as troopers outline search efforts for missing Palmer man

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: November 7, 2017
  • Published November 7, 2017

Family and friends of missing man Keith Aumavae turned out en masse to support search efforts for him during a Tuesday press conference where Alaska State Troopers answered questions about the case.

"Bottom line is, we haven't found him, and we're still looking," Lt. Chris Thompson told reporters.

About 20 of Aumavae's friends and family huddled in the entrance of the Alaska State Troopers building as the press conference got underway. Two family members were allowed back into the office where troopers addressed the media's question about the case.

Aumavae was reported missing on the afternoon of Oct. 27, Thompson said.

Keith Ben Aumavae is missing in the Palmer area. He was last seen Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo provided by Jenna Aumavae)

"Family reported that he was believed to be at his home around the 19th of October, but hadn't heard from him since," Thompson said. Aumavae lives in an apartment near Trunk Road off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.

Aumavae's car – a silver 2001 Chrysler Sebring, with license plate KAG300 – was also still missing, troopers said.

There's still no indication of foul play, Capt. Tony April said, "but again, we don't discount anything."

Timing of Silver Alert

A Silver Alert was issued for Aumavae on Nov. 1, five days after the family reported him missing. The family said that he was initially denied a Silver Alert.

Thompson told reporters that Aumavae didn't meet the criteria for a Silver Alert but troopers still decided to issue one to see if it brought in new information.

There must be "clear indication" of "deterioration of intellectual faculties, a physical impairment or medical condition that makes them unable to meet their own needs or to seek help without assistance," Thompson said, reading from the state of Alaska's alert plan.

Aumavae lived on his own and had a driver's license. Troopers said as far as his current condition and function abilities, he was "doing just fine," Thompson said.

A typical Silver Alert would be for an elderly person with dementia, Thompson said.

Aumavae's family has said that he suffers from schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.

Junior Aumavae, the missing man's brother, said after the press conference that he "absolutely" believed his brother's mental illness should have qualified him to have a Silver Alert.

[See Page 75 of the State of Alaska Emergency Alert System Plan for more information on Silver Alerts]

'We want action'

Aumavae has two brothers and 10 sisters. Some of his family had flown in from Hawaii, Junior Aumavae said.

After the press conference, family stood in a half circle outside, as Junior Aumavae told reporters the family wanted "more than just a missing person's alert."

"We want action," Aumavae said.

"The house needs to be investigated. People going in and out of the house need to be investigated," Aumavae said.

"There's things we feel like we could get more support on," Aumavae said.

The family had "scoured the Mat-Su Valley," Aumavae said. Even with "our search efforts that we have done as a family, we still have not found our brother."

"All we're asking is for the public's help," Aumavae said.

'No stones have been unturned'

Troopers said that after Aumavae was reported missing, they conducted a neighborhood canvass, searched his house and asked all troopers along the highways to watch for his car.

Wildlife troopers searched for Aumavae at Hatcher Pass and Jim Creek, Thompson said. Airlines and customs had been notified.

"This isn't a typical search-and-rescue type situation," Thompson said.

Alaska State Troopers Capt. Tony April and Lt. Christopher Thompson give an update regarding the ongoing missing person investigation of Keith Aumavae during a press conference in Anchorage on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Usually, the search is conducted in a defined area, he said, like during wilderness search and rescues. But Aumavae had a car — which means he could be in any number of places.

Troopers were planning to search Jim Creek, a "vast area" off the Old Glenn Highway, where they believe that Aumavae had gone at least once before, said Sgt. Ron Hayes.

"No stones have been unturned," April said.

Troopers were also planning to send a helicopter to do an aerial search for Aumavae.

"It's just a matter of trying to pinpoint where specifically the helicopter's going to go," Thompson said.

Troopers were also trying to work to gain access to Aumavae's iPad, but there were "some issues we're running into with Apple," Hayes said.

Troopers requested that people with information about Aumavae's whereabouts call 907-745-2131 or a local law enforcement agency.