Like a story we all watch on Dateline, 48 Hours or a host of other shows on TV that always seem to take place far away from home, so distant, except this time it is all too real for the family and friends of 26-year-old Madeline Kingsbury of Winona, Minn., who disappeared on March 31, 2023. Kingsbury, the mother of two children, a five-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, has been in the hearts and on the minds of so many people since her disappearance.
“Maddi was last seen the morning of Friday, March 31. Maddi and the father of their children dropped the children off at daycare shortly after 8 a.m. Maddi did not show up for work, which is very unlike her,” stated Winona Police Chief Tom Williams at a press briefing on Wednesday, April 5, which took place at the Goodview Fire Department.
Those who spoke at the press briefing included Bonney Bowman, Public Information Officer with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Winona Police Chief Tom Williams and Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge. The BCA is assisting the Winona Police Department in investigating the disappearance of Madeline Kingsbury.
“During the course of our investigation we know that Maddi returned to her residence after a drive in Winona, around 8:15 a.m. on March 31. The father of Maddi’s children has spoken to law enforcement and told us that he left the residence in Maddi’s van around 10 a.m. and upon returning later in the day Maddi was not home,” added Williams.
According to Williams, they believe a van similar to Kingsbury’s van was driven on County Rd. 12 and Hwy. 43 in Winona County and then southbound on Hwy 43 through the eastern part of Fillmore County. Later, a van similar to Kingsbury’s, a 2014 dark blue Town and Country minivan, traveled back toward Winona on Hwy 43. All of this occurred between approximately 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., as stated by law enforcement.
“We believe the van remained parked in the driveway of Maddi’s residence from 1:30 p.m. on,” explained Williams, adding that nothing to date has indicated that Maddi left the residence on foot or in another vehicle.
Investigators searched the van and the residence. Inside the residence investigators found Maddi’s phone, the jacket she had been wearing earlier in the morning, along with her wallet and ID, according to Williams. Maddi’s family and friends tried to contact her throughout the day on March 31 without success.
“We believe Maddi’s disappearance is involuntary and suspicious and we are all concerned for her safety,” Williams commented during the press conference on Wednesday.
Since Kingsbury’s disappearance there has been an outpouring of care and concern from the entire southeast Minnesota community and beyond.
Law enforcement is keeping information about the case close to the vest as to not impede the investigation. They have stated that they do not have a suspect or person of interest at this time.
Searches by law enforcement officials, including several different agencies working together, have been searching areas in Winona and Fillmore counties, and in the last few days have also included Houston County as well, as it joins both Winona and Fillmore counties.
Coordinated searches by volunteers have been conducted with immense interest and turnout.
Approximately 2,600 people joined the search for Kingsbury on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 between the Winona County searches and the Fillmore County searches that took place.
Kelle Dencker of Houston, Minn., joined the search in Fillmore County on Friday. When asked why she chose to volunteer, she responded without hesitation. “If it was my family I would want to know that everybody in the community did what they could do to help out.”
Katie Bailey from south-central Wisconsin, another volunteer who spent several hours with a search party in Fillmore County on Friday, shared her reason for volunteering to search rough terrain saying, “Just the idea of being part of something bigger – that I could be part of that and be part of the effort to try and find her – it just feels good,” she said with a caring smile.
Bailey noted that there were a large number of people searching that day. “We had 10-person teams with four teams on each bus going out,” she said, adding that there was “standing room only” on the bus she rode in.
There were such a great number of volunteers to search on Friday, April 7, that the search areas were able to be expanded in size from the original plan. Volunteers were given bottled water, snacks and hot food which were provided by donations. There we so many supplies donated that organizers put a pause on any more donations.
“Assistance and support from our community in Fillmore County has been incredible,” stated Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge during the press briefing on Friday, April 7.
Search efforts have included people on foot, in vehicles, as well as by water and from the air.
Large-scale organized searches by volunteers have been suspended at this time, but the case remains very open and active as law enforcement has received hundreds of leads, and they are pursuing each and every one of them.
However, smaller volunteer searches continue. If you or anyone you know is interested in registering to search, information can be found on Facebook/FindingMadelineKingsbury. If you are unable to physically search there are ways you can help, including distributing flyers.
There is also a GoFundMe page that has been set up for monetary donations. As of April 10 a total of $15,815 has been donated. The link to the GoFundMe account can be found on the Finding Madeline Kingsbury Facebook page.
Authorities continue to ask residents in and around Winona, Fillmore and Houston counties to walk your property, check outbuildings, and look for anything that is out of place or has been disturbed.
Check any cameras you have on your property. Check your video for a 2014 dark blue Chrysler Town and Country minivan driving by or stopping. Please save any video you may have from March 31 through April 1 and contact law enforcement, whether you see anything you feel may be of importance or not.
Madeline Kingsbury is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 135 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.
There is a $50,000 reward being offered by Kingsbury’s family for any information leading to her whereabouts.
If you have any information call Crimestoppers Minnesota at (800) 222-TIPS, the Winona Police Department at (507) 457-6288 or the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office at (507) 765-3874 with any information.
Statement from Madeline Kingsbury’s family
In a statement released on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the family shared the following message with the public.
Nothing in life prepares you for this. The disappearance of our daughter and sister has been a waking nightmare with no respite. In the days and nights since Madeline disappeared, the immediate family and extended family have, collectively and individually, been experiencing emotions and trials that someone who has never been suddenly thrust into this horrific situation could ever imagine.
Eating is a mechanical act we force ourselves to do in order to keep our strength up so we can continue to advocate and search for Madeline. Sleep, if it comes, is fitful and fleeting. I have to think that the only thing that could come close to what we experience is the stress of combat, day after awful day. Initially we were so overwrought that we couldn’t bear to look at each other but couldn’t bear to look away. There were no words we could say to comfort each other and we felt alone and frantic. In the days since the family has circled the wagons and gathered from near and across the world. We will find Madeline. This is our mission and we will not falter.
We’re private people finding ourselves thrust into the national limelight at the most traumatic time in our lives. We don’t seek to draw attention to ourselves but, of course, want everyone everywhere to know about Madeline so we can reunite her with her children.
Members of our family and close friends coordinate closely with law enforcement and send out search teams day after day, every day.
From time to time and as we see the need we use social media to encourage and inform the large groups of volunteers helping us search for Madeline. We’re overwhelmed by the dedication and tangible expressions of love demonstrated by the huge circle of warriors she unknowingly gathered around her – her sorority sisters, coworkers at Mayo Clinic and other places, fellow students from her days at Winona State, other moms and her many, many friends, acquaintances and people whose lives she’s touched.
We will continue to search for Madeline. We will not give up and our family will come out the other side of this forever changed but forever grateful for the tireless dedication of so many helpers – friends and relatives, people in law enforcement, other first responders, social workers, case workers, legal professionals, child advocates and many, many more.
Statement from Adam Fravel
Attorney Zachary Bauer, representing Adam Fravel, released the following statement on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
Over the course of the last 12 days my family and I have been subject to a myriad of accusations regarding the disappearance of the mother of my children, Maddi Kingsbury. During these last 12 days I have cooperated with law enforcement at every turn, including sitting down for multiple interviews with Winona County law enforcement. I did not have anything to do with Maddi’s disappearance. I want the mother of my 5-year-old and 2-year-old to be found and brought home safely. I want that more than anything. Law enforcement advised me on April 2nd that they would not recommend that I attend the press conferences or that I assist in the searches due to safety concerns. However, my non-attendance and silence has been inferred by many as a sign of apathy, or worse. That could not be further from the truth. I want Maddi home and for her to be able to be with our two children. God Bless the Kingsbury family and please bring her home safely.
–Adam Fravel, father of
Madeline Kingsbury’s children