Volunteers Search for Missing Woman
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
More than two dozen community members gathered last Saturday to search areas surrounding Pala’au State Park for Gianina Reid, a woman who has been missing since June 24. She was last seen at the Kalaupapa lookout parking lot, where she abandoned her car and belongings and presumably fled on foot after hitting the park caretaker with her vehicle. Though diagnosed with bipolar disorder and known on Molokai for unusual behavior, the circumstances and reasons behind her disappearance remain a mystery. Friends and family haven’t heard from her and there have been no confirmed sightings of Reid since June 24.
Reid’s mother, Lenia Rexrode, came from Pennsylvania, which sparked the community search to be organized during her visit. She told community members she had been planning to come search the area herself but was “grateful from the bottom of my heart” for those who came out to help scour the rugged terrain.
The search effort was spearheaded by Kimberlyn Scott, a Maui resident whose daughter disappeared seven years ago on Maui and was later found murdered. Scott has since been helping coordinate search efforts for families whose loved ones are missing. Molokai’s Alexa “Saucie” Dudoit assisted in organization of the community, getting the word out to those experienced in the area’s treacherous terrain, and organizing food donations for searchers.
Searchers gathered on Saturday for orientation at 6:30 a.m. and concluded at 5 p.m. After the first day, nothing was found that is obviously related to Reid, Scott said, but said a lot of ground was covered and the search continued on Sunday. As of Sunday press deadline, no significant findings were reported.
Scott said she anticipated community search efforts would be ongoing, until answers are found for Reid’s family.
While Rexrode said she believes her daughter to be deceased, Reid’s two younger sisters, who did not come to Molokai, refuse to accept that possible reality.
“They don’t believe she is dead,” Rexrode said. “They won’t believe it until there is proof.”
John Graham, a former sheriff from Montana experienced in search and rescue who now lives on Molokai, shared protocols and search plans with volunteers.
Searchers were instructed to look for specific articles of clothing or other identifiable signs that could indicate Reid had been in the area or the direction she had been traveling, as well as body remains. If anything was found, they were instructed to mark the location by GPS, back away without touching or trampling it, and report back to the search base. Police would immediately be notified in the case of remains.
Molokai police initially searched the immediate Kalaupapa lookout area on foot the day Reid disappeared, as part of a criminal case following the possible hit and run incident. Five days later, police opened a missing person case, and did a search of the cliffs and surrounding area by helicopter, drone and on foot. Police later completed a grid search on foot focusing on the south side of Kalae Highway from the Phallic Rock trail to the old mule ride barn, according to Molokai Police Detective Kyle “Ikaika” Bishaw-Juario. The community search expanded on those areas.
Reid is 25 years old and described as Caucasian, 5-foot-8, weighing about 120 pounds, with blonde hair, hazel eyes and a crescent moon-shaped tattoo on her forehead.
A reward is being offered for any information leading to Reid. Anyone with information about her whereabouts or disappearance can contact the Molokai police at 808-553-5355, call Rexrode, at 484-798-3731, or send a message through the “Find Gianina Reid” Facebook page, and tips will be forwarded to the police anonymously. To help with future searches, contact Scott at 808-205-7758 or Dudoit at 808-283-0139.
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