In a revealing interview, the sister of missing mother Madeline “Maddi” Kingsbury, of Minnesota, revealed new details about her sister’s mysterious disappearance, which is now entering its third week with no answers.
Speaking to NBC affiliate KARE 11, Kingsbury’s sister Megan Kingsbury explained what happened in the hours after her last text message from the young mother-of-two on the day of her disappearance.
Kingsbury, a 26-year-old clinical researcher at the Mayo Clinic, has been missing since taking her children to daycare in Winona, Minnesota on March 31, prompting a massive search, national headlines and many unanswered questions.
Megan Kingsbury said her sister was moving out of the home she shared with the father of her two children, who she was no longer with.
On the morning of her disappearance, Kingsbury and her ex both brought their children to the daycare, which Kingsbury’s family said didn’t appear to be unusual, based on interviews police conducted with the daycare owner.
Megan Kingsbury said she last heard from her sister in a text message the morning of her disappearance.
“I had sent her a funny photo the night before,” she told KARE 11 in an interview.
The picture was a reminder of a trip the two had taken last summer.
“She didn’t see it until this morning. She just sent back a reply, ‘lol,'” Megan Kingsbury said. “I had just responded with some sort of general babble to that. It was at 8:15 when she texted me and that was the last I heard from her.”
As the day progressed, Megan Kingsbury didn’t hear from her sister like she usually does throughout the day, which was particularly concerning given that her sister was due to visit her in Minneapolis with her niece the next day. Then she received a text message from her mother who was concerned.
The family began contacting Madeline Kingsbury in hopes of a reply, but by 7pm they had heard nothing.
“It definitely set off some alarm bells because it was so different from her,” said Megan Kingsbury.
Megan Kingsbury said she texted her sister’s ex that night but he hadn’t heard from her either, although many didn’t question that given their relationship status.
The family said they wanted to file a missing person’s report quickly “because it’s just such abnormal behavior.”
Police said Kingsbury, who often worked from home, did not turn up for work as usual that morning.
The father of Kingsbury’s children told authorities he left the house around 10 a.m. in the minivan she usually drives, a dark blue 2014 Chrysler Town and Country. When he returned home, he told police Kingsbury was not there.
The same van has since been the focus of much of the investigation.
Police said they believe a similar van was seen on County Road 12 and Highway 43 in Winona County, traveling southbound on Highway 43 through eastern Fillmore County. The van was later seen traveling back toward Winona County on Highway 43.
The sightings were reported between 10am and 1:30pm on the day of her disappearance, although police did not say who was driving the van. The vehicle was parked in the driveway of Kingsbury’s home after 1:30 p.m. that afternoon.
“There has been no indication to date that Maddi left the home on foot or in another vehicle,” Winona Police Chief Tom Williams said.
In their most recent update, police said Kingsbury’s van had been taken and processed for evidence.
“We worked closely with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to identify and process all available forensic evidence,” the department said.
Authorities have repeatedly said Kingsbury’s disappearance is considered “involuntary” and “suspicious”, although they have not named any person of interest or suspect in the case.
Family members said Kingsbury would not have gone away on her own and had big plans for her future, being in graduate school and considering a possible promotion in her field.
“She definitely had plans to go to higher places,” Megan Kingsbury said.
While looking for a new place to live, the family said Kingsbury wanted to stay in the Winona area so their children could still see their father.
“She didn’t really want to take them away from anyone,” Megan Kingsbury said.
KARE 11 reports that Kingsbury’s ex, Adam Fravel, released a statement through his attorney last week.
“Over the past 12 days, my family and I have been subjected to countless allegations regarding the disappearance of my children’s mother, Maddi Kingsbury,” the statement said. “During this past 12 days, I have been cooperating with law enforcement at every turn, including conducting multiple interviews with Winona County law enforcement. I had nothing to do with Maddi’s disappearance. I would like the mother of my 5 year old and 2 year old to be found and brought home safely. I want that more than anything. The police informed me on April 2 that they would not recommend that I attend the press conferences or participate in the searches for security reasons. However, my non-attendance and silence was inferred by many to be a sign of apathy or worse. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I want Maddi to be home and to be with our two children. God bless the Kingsbury family and please get them home safely.”
Authorities and the community have conducted searches in several counties in the Winona, Minnesota, area, but so far nothing has been found.
“Evidence to date indicates that Maddi’s disappearance was involuntary and suspicious,” Winona Police said in a release. “We remain extremely concerned for their safety.”
Megan Kingsbury said recent searches over the weekend are expected to focus on water in the area.
Authorities said tips on the case continue to flow in, but acknowledged the information released is limited.
“We have had two goals since learning that Maddi was missing: to bring her home and, if justified, to bring accountability to the person or persons responsible for her disappearance,” police said. “Releasing certain information about the investigation would jeopardize our ability to achieve those goals. We understand how much the community wants answers, and we ask everyone to be patient as the investigative process unfolds. We remain confident that we will find Maddi and bring her home to her family.”
It becomes increasingly difficult for her family to maintain a positive attitude as each day goes on without her.
“Hope is obviously still there, it’s just a struggle to stay positive at times,” Megan Kingsbury said. “We definitely keep the faith and hope that we will find her.”
The family released a lengthy message last week as police provided an update on the investigation. (Read more here.)
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Kingsbury’s whereabouts.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Winona Police Department at (507) 457-6492 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling (507) 457-6530 or emailing winonaareacrimestoppers.com.