Nearly three weeks have passed since Derek Adams disappeared from his home in rural Byron, Maine, but family members and volunteers are undeterred in their search for him.
"We just want to get him home. He's just a good guy, a caring genuine man. He sees the good in everybody," Julie Gudbrandsen, a high school friend of Derek's, told Dateline. "This shouldn't happen to anyone, but especially not to him."
Derek, 46, was last seen in the early hours of December 29, 2016, just a few hours before a snowstorm dumped more than two feet of snow on the area.
It’s unclear exactly what happened the evening Derek vanished. But what is known is that Derek, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia a number of years ago, was last seen in his basement apartment in a home he shared with a caretaker and with his two-year-old German Sheppard mix Copper. Both Derek and Copper were gone in the morning.
Derek’s glasses and daily medication were left behind. It’s assumed by authorities he was not dressed for the incoming inclement weather.
"He was supposed to go to his parents' to celebrate (a late) Christmas the next day, but obviously didn't show up," Julie told Dateline.
Several days later, Derek’s dog Copper returned to the house. Officials are unsure if the dog had been with Derek. Searchers traced the pup’s paw prints left in the snow along a snowmobile trail, but found no signs of Derek.
Authorities with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office called off the official ground search for Derek on January 3rd after several days of massive searches. Snowmobilers, snowshoers and hikers have scoured the snowy trails and woods near Derek’s home. His case remains open and active, officials said.
Family members and friends are now leading teams of volunteers in the search for Derek. Nearly 100 people have joined their efforts.
"It's a very small community and they always pull together. Everybody is gathering and doing searches and whatever they can think of," Julie told Dateline.
The most recent search this past weekend ended without any solid paths to follow. Derek’s loved ones have not been hindered though, and they have posted on Facebook that they will once again head out this coming weekend.
Because of the low temperatures and continued winter storms, everyone in and around Byron is growing more concerned as each day passes. Derek knows how to survive in the outdoors, his friend Julie told Dateline, but his being gone this long is extremely worrisome.
"He's an avid outdoors person. He's an Eagle Scout. He was a cross-country skier," Julie told Dateline. "But it's troubling to say the least that he's gone."
Derek's loved ones continue to post their pleas for anyone with information to contact authorities. They also ask anyone who may be able to help in their search efforts to come forward. Any and all help, they’ve said, is appreciated.
"It isn't him to just to walk off, especially in the middle of the night," Julie told Dateline. "All we want is him to get home safely. He's been a great friend to me for nearly 30 years now, and we want to do everything we can to get him home."
Derek Adams is described as 5’6” tall, weighing 145 lbs. with greying brown hair and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to call the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department at 1 (800) 733-1421.