Mother marks 3 years since daughter disappeared at Kadena

Air Force wife Kelli Cribbs Abad, pictured with her two children, disappeared from Kadena Air Base, Japan, three years ago last week.

Air Force wife Kelli Cribbs Abad, pictured with her two children, disappeared from Kadena Air Base, Japan, three years ago last week.

Last week marked three years since Air Force wife Kelli Abad vanished without a trace from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Her mother, Janice Cribbs, said she is still no closer to finding out what happened despite another year of letter-writing and reaching out to anyone who might be able to help.

“Some days I’m like, ‘I might as well quit.’ Some days, I think it’s possible she might not want to be found even if she’s alive. Some days I get very angry because I feel like there’s a grave injustice that’s been committed because of the lack of response,” Cribbs said.

Cribbs never believed authorities did enough to find Kelli, a 27-year-old mother of two, after she disappeared from her base home on the evening of Oct. 26, 2011. Her  green Toyota SUV was found three days later at Cape Zanpa, a popular tourist spot about 10 miles away. Police found a note inside that appeared to be written by Kelli:

“Love my kids, love my hubby and parents,” it read. “Bye.”

There was no way to tell when it was written or what it meant. But Kelli’s husband, Tech. Sgt. Vince Abad, suggested weeks after his wife’s disappearance that it may have been a suicide note, and Air Force investigators have said the evidence support that theory.

Cribbs does not believe her daughter would have willingly walked away from her two young children. And she said no one has been able to answer a litany of questions she hass been trying to get answers to since the days after Kelli disappeared: When did the search for her begin? Was there surveillance video of the parking lot where her SUV was found that might reveal who parked it there and when? Why was the search never expanded beyond the park? Did Kelli try to call her parents that night?

Cribbs said she has filed Freedom of Information Act requests only to have them returned unanswered. She has written to the Kadena Inspector General and to her congressman. She has reached out to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent assigned to the case and contacted the Japanese consulate in Washington.

Mostly, Cribbs said, she comes up empty-handed.

But she is still not ready to give up.

Her relentless efforts led to one coup this year: Kelli’s identifying information is now entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a centralized repository for the missing and unidentified.

Cribbs continues to post to Kelli’s missing persons Facebook page and respond to those who reach out. She asks that anyone with information get in touch with her there or by email at

“A lot of people would say why is this even important to you,” Cribbs said. “I just feel like everything out there that can be done should be.”


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