Search effort for missing Captain Cook woman continues

  • Traffic passes a banner Tuesday afternoon in Kainaliu notifying the public that Deborah “Debby” Wiley remains missing. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • Debby and Jim Wiley are seen in this undated photo. Debby Wiley, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, has been missing since the evening of May 13. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — Posters and banners asking for help bringing home Deborah “Debby” Wiley line roadways in mauka Kona as the search for the 67-year-old woman missing since Mother’s Day continues.

Today marks the 10th day since the Captain Cook woman was last seen by her husband Jim Wiley in the driveway of their home on Hind Road around 5 p.m. May 13. Mrs. Wiley, a retired public health nurse, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is in need of medication.

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“We haven’t lost hope,” said Janel Wiley, Mrs. Wiley’s daughter-in-law and the family’s spokesperson. “We still know we’re going to bring her home. It’s just we got to bring her home in time.”

That effort to bring Mrs. Wiley home continues from search headquarters at Lanakila Church in Kainaliu, she said Tuesday. Each morning, organizers and volunteers meet at 8 a.m. before heading out to search in assigned areas. They check-in at noon and de-brief at 5 p.m. The number of volunteers has ranged from 10-15 a day to a high of 40-50 people on Saturday and Sunday.

“We have a tremendous amount of thanks for all of the help everybody has given. They’ve given their time, heart and tears to us — they’ve kind of given us everything,” said Janel Wiley, who also thanked local businesses that have provided food and refreshments for the volunteers.

Mrs. Wiley is described as being 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a dark blue-colored long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and grayish-white tennis shoes, according to police. She was reportedly sighted wearing a camouflage-style hat on May 16.

That sighting is one of two confirmed sightings of Mrs. Wiley since she went missing. The first occurred in the area of Mamalahoa Highway and St. John’s Road about an hour after she disappeared from her home and around 6 a.m. May 16 when she was spotted in the area of Captain Cook Road A.

A week has now passed without any sign of Mrs. Wiley, a mother of two sons and grandmother of three.

“Unfortunately, we have not had any additional sightings or leads,” said Hawaii Police Department Area II Criminal Investigation Section Lt. Sherry Bird.

Since May 13, the search effort has covered a “very wide perimeter” in the Captain Cook area that stretches from mauka to makai, she said.

A variety of parties are involved, including the Hawaii Police Department, which has also utilized its scent-discriminating canine, Hawaii Fire Department personnel and its helicopter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, family and community members and the U.S. Coast Guard, which aided in search efforts on Monday. In addition, the Hawaii County Highways Division helped by setting up a message board to inform passing motorist that Mrs. Wiley remains missing.

“If new leads or information develops, detectives will investigate and attempt to validate the information as expeditiously as possible,” Bird said.

Until then, she urged area residents to keep an eye on their property for any signs of Mrs. Wiley, or things that may appear out of the ordinary.

“Given Mrs. Wiley’s condition, she is likely to be confused, scared, and disoriented and may have found an area to hide herself,” said Bird.

Janel Wiley said if there are large property owners in the Captain Cook area who want to have their property checked by volunteers, it can be coordinated by calling the church at 322-3346, which forwards calls to a cellphone.

Though the search effort remains primarily in the area around the Wiley home and confirmed sightings, Janel Wiley also asked people islandwide keep a lookout for Mrs. Wiley in case she may have gotten a ride or taken the bus.

“We’re just trying to look at all avenues,” Janel Wiley said.

Anyone with information on Mrs. Wiley’s whereabouts should contact the police department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Detective David Matsushima via email at David.Matsushima@hawaiicounty.gov or at 326-4646 ext. 224.

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Those who receive reports of sightings or other information are asked to pass that on by calling the church at 322-3346.

More information: The family is using the hashtag #bringdebbyhome on Facebook and Instagram to provide updates and coordinate search efforts. There also is a Facebook page named “Deborah Debby Wiley” and email address bringdebbyhome@gmail.com.