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Rickie Lynn Abel, 34, right, with her son, Christopher McCombs, 17. Relatives are asking for help in locating Abel, who has been missing for two months after disappearing in the woods near White Cloud Campground, off Highway 20 east of Nevada City.

January 26, 2017 – Relatives and friends of Rickie Lynn Abel hold out slim hope that the troubled daughter, sister, mother and friend may be found.

Abel, 34, has been missing since Nov. 25 – two months ago today. She and companion Jordan Alexander Rose, 23, were last seen that afternoon fleeing from Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies in a Mitsubishi Lancer on Highway 20, heading east past Nevada City.

A search covered 50 square miles, but turned up nothing. Since then, several waves of rain, snow and freezing temperatures have blasted the region.

“Chances are slim” that the two are still alive, said Abel’s sister, Mary Dixon, 39, of Grass Valley. “They need to be found so we can have closure… a memorial service or something,” Dixon added. “It’s not fair to not have closure at this point.” She and others have posted fliers around the area asking for help finding Abel.

“They are still in our (missing persons) system. People are still on the look-out for them,” said Lt. Bill Smethers, head of the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit. But stormy weather has pushed off any new search until March or April, he added.

Anyone with information about Abel and Rose’s location is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office main number at (530) 265-1471 or, after business hours, the dispatch center at (530) 265-7880.

High hopes dashed

Abel has a long history of drug use and petty crime. Her skin often was covered with scabs from injecting methamphetamine. Yet, Dixon knew her sister still could turn her life around.

Dixon herself is climbing out of addiction. She has fought for sobriety and stability, lately with support from the Salvation Army’s Booth Family Center, where she lives.

Abel had just finished a 47-day sentence in Placer County Jail on Nov. 23, Dixon said. On Nov. 24 – Thanksgiving Day – Abel came to visit her sister and nephews. Due to the terms of Dixon’s recovery and Abel’s previous convictions, Dixon could not allow her sister to stay, she said.

“She pulled up and said ‘hi’ for Thanksgiving. She showed me how her body had all cleared up (from needle sores). She said she’d been reading the Bible in jail. She had called (Child Protective Services) and was going to be part of a program so she could have her kid again,” Dixon said. “I said I loved her…”

“I had big hopes” that Abel finally was on the road to recovery, Dixon said.

Then, “She went out and made some wrong choices,” Dixon added.

Rose, Abel and at least one other man were in the Mitsubishi Nov. 25, when Nevada City police tried to stop the car at Gold Flat Road, Smethers said. (At some point, the third person left the vehicle.) A Sheriff’s deputy noticed the car on Zion Street, driving fast and blowing past stop signs, and joined the pursuit, he added.

The Mitsubishi headed north on Highway 49/20, then east on Highway 20, with deputies in pursuit. But the car continued to drive erratically and crossed the center line. Worried about safety, deputies stopped, Smethers said. That was at about 3:30 p.m., Dixon said. Deputies “made a cursory search of the area, but there were multiple side-roads they could have taken,” Smethers added.

A couple hours later, it was dark. Rose called a friend. “He said his phone was dying, they were lost out in the woods and they needed help,” Dixon said.

Snow fell. On Sunday, Nov. 27, friends in trucks and on quads found the empty Mitsubishi about 150 yards west of the helicopter pad, near a dirt road at the back of the White Cloud campground on Highway 20, 11 miles northeast of Nevada City, Smethers said.

On Monday, Nov. 28, Sheriff’s Search and Rescue teamed up with United States Forest Service officers, a California Highway Patrol helicopter and search dogs. (Volunteer searchers were not invited, Smethers said. Due to Rose’s erratic driving and his possible intoxication at the time of the chase, and the chance he may have been armed, “we don’t want to put our volunteers in danger,” Smethers added.)

They found no clues, Smethers said. Snow had covered any tracks the pair may have left. A Forest Service station at the campground was occupied, but received no contact from Abel or Rose, Smethers added.

So their families continue to wait.

Grass Valley freelance writer Trina Kleist may be reached at tkleistwrites@gmail.com or (530) 575-6132.