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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where is the Stivers family?

Ashland parents, their kids and two in-laws are missing on a coastal outing

March 14, 2006
Mail Tribune

ASHLAND — When Marlo Stivers’ in-laws drove their motor home from Arizona to Ashland, the family thought it was the perfect reason to take a day trip and visit the Pacific coast.

With husband Pete Stivers and their two children — 9-year-old Sabastyan and 8-year-old Gabrayell — Marlo Stivers said her goodbyes before heading off March 4 in a large motor home owned by her in-laws, Albert and Becky Higgenbothem.

"She was all excited," recalled Marlo Stivers’ mother, Ashland resident Rose Hill. "She had never seen the ocean before."

Family members and police have seen no trace of those six people and the motor home, and the family’s bank accounts and cell phones have not been used, said police, who Monday ramped up the family’s missing-person’s case.

"It’s suspicious to me," Ashland police Sgt. Bob Smith said. "They’ve missed a week now. They have access to a bank account and there hasn’t been any activity there.

"There’s enough there to make me wonder," Smith said.

Marlo Stivers, 31, and her 29-year-old husband have jobs and ties to Ashland, while friends and family members say the couple was under no strife and showed no signs of using the trip as a ruse for fleeing Ashland.
Fearful family members hope the extended family is stranded somewhere in the motor home, waiting for someone to find them.

"I’m trying to believe the best," Rose Hill said. "I know my daughter. She would get hold of me. She wouldn’t just take off like this. But I just can’t imagine someone not seeing them or them not being able to get to a phone."

Hill reported Marlo Stivers as missing late Wednesday to Ashland police, who issued an all-points bulletin to other law-enforcement agencies, police said.

The bulletin turned up no potential sightings, and Ashland police added Pete Stivers and the two children to the missing persons’ list Sunday while family members launched their personal search of the backroads and campgrounds in western Curry County.

Seward said both were due paychecks the day before they left, a move she believes discounts any notion that the family planned to leave Ashland under the ruse of a day trip.

Marlo Stivers works at an Ashland video store and Pete Stivers works at an Ashland convenience store, said Char Seward, Marlo Stivers’ close friend, neighbor and co-worker at DJ’s Video.

"When she left, she gave me a normal hug," Seward says. "It was an ‘I love you’ hug like we always do, not like ‘this was goodbye forever.’ "

There were no family troubles or other problems facing the Stivers, other than a dispute with a neighbor of theirs in the Takelma Village apartments near the Ashland Police Department, Seward said.

Seward said Elbert Higgenbothem told her that the motor home had some steering problems that he planned to fix before the trip.

"I was worried that first (Sunday) night and with each passing day, I get more worried," Seward said.

At this point, Smith said he is more concerned about the missing people’s welfare than why they remain eight days overdue from an overnight trip.

"I want somebody to spot the vehicle, spot these folks and make sure a law-enforcement officer can determine they’re OK," Smith said.

The brown-and-white Dolphin motor home is 35 feet long and has Arizona plates, Smith said.

Anyone with information about the missing people’s whereabouts is urged to call Ashland police at 482-5211.

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