WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. - A Green Country family refuses to give up hope even though their son's disappearance has been unsolved for 13 years.
Denie Hays flips through photos of her son Stephen, tears streaming down her face.
It's the only way she can see her goofy, loving boy anymore.
"At about 10:30 his girlfriend called and said have you heard from Stephen? I said no I haven't heard from him," she said.
She relives December 13, 2004.
Stephen was only 26 years old, and had just finished his finals at NSU in Tahlequah.
But that was all they knew for sure.
"It's just like a desperate feeling you get that never goes away."
His father Carl Adams felt abandoned by law enforcement, so he jumped into the search himself.
"I would tear the word apart just like Carl has."
Cherokee County District Attorney Jack Thorp has been digging into the case since 2012.
"There's no doubt in my mind that he was murdered. And I'll say that all day long," he said.
He rolled out a road map pointing to dozens of theories and characters.
But it started at his map with the facts.
"He was likely in this area."
Stephen made a phone call that hit a cell tower in Keys.
"She said well, he left the apartment and left town, picked up a hitchhiker and was going to drop them off in Keys," his mother said he told his girlfriend where he was going.
"We believe he was traveling this road and was going to take a back road back here to see his momma in Webbers Falls," Thorp said.
Denie was expecting him later that day.
"We know that he was seen at a convenience store in the Cookson area."
The last time Thorp said anyone saw him or his white Chevy pickup truck.
"When he left, and this is what's weird, because he was going to his momma's house and his momma lives down here, the witnesses said he was going north," Thorp said.
Those witnesses also said he was alone when he left, but remember the hitchhiker he told his girlfriend about.
"To me, logically speaking, if he didn't have anybody here, he must've dropped him somewhere here and went back to get them. And then I think that's when he was killed."
In fact, Carl said someone made it clear they wanted Stephen dead.
The DA said Stephen had been dismissed twice of molestation charges filed against him by the mother of his child.
The family said his ex father-in-law made his feelings known.
"He said I'll kill him, I'll kill him and the lawyer said calm down, you know they'll arrest you. And he calmed down a little bit and said but I'll kill him," Denie said.
She was there, and said she believed him.
"I believe he truly in his heart believed what they were saying about him, when it was all made up by his wife," said Stephen's brother Chris Adams.
Stephen's father worked tirelessly with OSBI and private investigators searching.
They came up short, but successfully petitioned for a grand jury hearing in 2012.
That jury heard more than 60 testimonies and concluded one or some of the people that testified did kill Stephen, but they couldn't identify who.
"I'm emotionally a wreck," Carl said.
A part of his heart lost with the Stephen he'll always remember; the baby with the sweet brown eyes.
The one his brother Chris feels he failed."
"Because sometimes I feel like if I had been here..."
His mother, still waits for him.
"Sometimes I scream his name, I just miss him so much. It's hard."
The DA clear with his message for Stephen's murderers.
“Yea, keep sitting comfortable, because we’re coming. If you did it, we’re going to figure it out and we’re going to put you in jail," he said.
Carl, with less to say.
"I would say I hope they find God because they're looking at spending eternity in hell for what they've done."
The lead agency over the case is the Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation, which is in the process of renewing the reward on this case.
If you have any information on the case you're encouraged to call or email their tip line.
That number is (800) 522- 8017, and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can send tips directly to the DA at email@example.com.
NOTE: The legal spelling of his name is Stephan, but the family requested we use the spelling he preferred, Stephen.
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