BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — She walked out of a casino 15 years ago and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
It’s a case that has baffled investigators for years, and left her family with more questions than answers.
But as Target 11 investigator Rick Earle discovered tonight, there’s a new effort underway to find her.
“Her aura, people were just attracted to her. She was just that fun full-hearted person,” said Travelle Ryan, the niece of Karen Adams.
Ryan, along with other family members and friends, recently gathered at a park in Beaver County, not far from where Karen lived, to remember her.
“Just very high energy, Very caring, very kind, giving person. She’d do anything for anybody. She was a wonderful, wonderful person,” said sister-in-law Lisa Adams.
But for her older brother, the pain of remembering was just too much. He broke down in tears as he tried to talk about his sister.
On the afternoon of March 11, 2007, Adams — who lived in Independence Township, Beaver County, with her other brother — drove to the Mountaineer Casino just south of East Liverpool, Ohio.
Her brother, John Adams, said she called him around 8 p.m. and asked if he was home. He wasn’t and he said she told him that she had lost all her money.
Her brother said she loved to play bingo and gamble.
“Did she express any concerns, was she having any trouble, any issue or anything,” asked Earle.
“No. No,” several in the gathering told Earle.
“No, she just liked bingo and slot machines,” said John.
Family members said Karen, who didn’t have any kids and never married, worked two jobs — as a clerk at a store and as an aide at a school for the physically and mentally challenged. They said she loved her jobs.
They also said she was a regular at the Mountaineer Casino, often going by herself.
“She was very independent. She liked to do stuff on her own. If she wanted to do it, she did it,” said Ryan.
While at the casino that day, detectives said she kept to herself and didn’t win big.
At 3 a.m. — seven hours after she had called her brother — she was seen on surveillance video leaving the casino by herself.
She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“It’s like she vanished off of the face of the earth,” asked Earle, while interviewing Beaver County detective Timmie Patrick, who has worked the case for years.
“Yes, but someone knows because at 3 a.m., there’s only a certain amount of people out there,” said Patrick.
To this day, detective Patrick said there has been no sign of her car, a maroon Suzuki four-door sedan, and no activity on Adams’ credit cards or bank accounts.
“She has not popped up on any radar, any type of social media, any type of credit card database. It’s just she totally just disappeared,” said Patrick.
In the days and weeks after her disappearance, family members, who say she would never leave her beloved dog behind, searched all possible routes from the casino to her home, and back again.
“We basically went down every way we could think possible that you could go down there and we’d look over hillsides, any chance there was over a hillside we go down and look,” said John Adams.
Investigators said the last signal from Karen’s cellphone was near Steubenville, Ohio, about a half hour south of the casino. That’s where there’s a renewed search effort along the Ohio River near the Steubenville Marina.
“We’re finding all kinds of cars in here,” said searcher, Jacob Grubbs, a diver with an organization called Chaos Divers.
Volunteers from Chaos Divers, a group that travels the country searching for missing people, visited the area last November to search the Ohio River.
They found more than a dozen submerged vehicles, most believed to be stolen.
“I’m hoping and praying that if Karen is in the water, she’s in one of those vehicles,” said Grubbs.
They’ve returned to the river two more times, most recently in early May.
“There’s no license plate on it. The only thing I could get off of it was the back tail light, completely silted out. It’s a mercury. It’s not her car,” said Grubbs.
“They have been phenomenal. We are so impressed with them. we are so grateful they decided to pick up this cold case. They’ve been a godsend,” said sister-in-law Lisa Adams.
During the group’s latest search, divers recovered the pickup truck of an Ohio man missing for 23 years.
And while there has been no sign of Karen Adams’ car, the divers aren’t giving up.
They plan to return and search other ponds and rivers on the route she may have traveled.
“She needs to come home. Her family needs to know where she’s at,” said Grubbs.
“We just want to put her to rest. We might now want all the details of what happened. But we just want to put her to rest. She deserves to be at peace,” said Lisa Adams.
“When there’s no resolution you don’t know. Until we know, we still have that void,” said sister-in-law Nancy Adams.
Investigators tell me the divers recently conducted a field survey at the Ambridge Reservoir, but they didn’t find any likely entrance points.
The divers tell me they will return to this area in the near future to continue their search for Karen Adams’ car.
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