Family of grandmother who went missing on Mother's Day hopeful she'll be found

(Image: Wiley Family)
(Image: Wiley Family)

CAPTAIN COOK, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Relatives of a Big Island grandmother who disappeared more than two weeks ago aren't ready to give up hope for her safe return.

Deborah "Debby" Wiley, 67, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. On Mother's Day, more than two weeks ago, she went to church with her husband, Jim, then wandered away from their home in Captain Cook that afternoon.

"We've tried different things to get Dad more support, with more full-time caregivers, because he's been doing it on his own. Get a GPS tracker watch, something through the fire department, and she'll take that off, hide it," said Wiley's son, Justin. "It's a challenging thing with Alzheimer's."

Police, fire, and military crews have already conducted aerial and ground searches. Volunteers are also stepping up, posting fliers and canvassing the surrounding areas. A scent tracking dog in training has also been involved.

"We're blessed by help from the fire department, from the FBI. The Coast Guard had different aircraft up with thermal imaging capabilities, and we're grateful for what we got, but also realize so much of that was tied up with the (Kilauea) volcano," said Justin Wiley.

The family also started a social media campaign to help spread the word.

"(We're) asking people to check their properties and listen for odd sounds and dogs barking incessantly and noises, or what not, lights that are left on, that kind of thing," said Wiley's daughter-in-law, Amber Wiley. "We're asking people to be pretty vigilant about their awareness right now."

Wiley headed up the public health center in Kona for more than two decades, according to her family. She has two sons and three grandchildren, and relatives are relying on their faith to keep hope that she will be found soon.

"My mom is the most loving person you'll meet. Personalities change with Alzheimer's, but in her better moments, we get a bit of the old Debby, and just would love to give her a hug again," said Justin Wiley.

According to her family, Wiley often has the mindset of a child who is trying to get home to her parents on Oahu. They describe her as 5'5" and 140 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

If you see her, call police at 935-3311 or the Lanakila Congregational Church office at 322-3346.

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