Woman asks for help in finding missing husband

TERRY CORCORAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Original publication: April 10, 2001

Kent - The wife of Thomas Oakley, a Kent man who has been missing for almost two weeks, asked for the public's help yesterday in finding her husband.

"We want him back; we love him," Diane Oakley said. "If anyone sees him, please let the Kent police know."

Kent police and about 20 volunteers from a New Jersey search-and-rescue team spent hours this weekend scouring the thick woods near Oakley's Horse Pound Road home in an effort to find him, Lt. Alex DiVernieri said.

Oakley, who is 38, about 5-foot-8 and a trim 160 pounds, was last seen by his wife on March 28 around 6:45 a.m.

She came home from her job as a cafeteria worker in the Kent schools around 2 p.m. that day. Her husband, who had recently been laid off from his carpentry job, was supposed to leave that morning to do a side job. When Oakley got home, her husband's truck was there, but he was nowhere to be found. She notified police the next morning. Almost immediately, they began an extensive search that included using a state police helicopter.

"His truck was here, the keys were in it and it was all loaded up for work. His clothes were here, his money and credit cards were here, even his toothbrush was here," Oakley said. "The last thing he said to me was, 'I love you with all my heart. I'll see you tonight.' I don't know if he's dead or alive, and every day gets worse."

She said her husband was depressed over being laid off and was still upset from the recent deaths of his father, an aunt and an uncle. Oakley used to be an avid hunter, but gave that up when they moved to their new home on Horse Pound Road a little more than a year ago, she said.

He loved to hike in the woods around their home, Oakley said, and had taken to feeding the wildlife, including deer and turkey.

That's why she thinks he wandered off into the woods.

Oakley has taken a leave of absence from her job and spends a lot of time in the cozy modular home her husband helped assemble and she decorated.

Yesterday, she tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in the front yard.

"I spent the first week crying, the next week in shock and now I'm at the point where I'm numb," Oakley said. The couple have been married 14 years. She has two grown sons from a previous marriage.

DiVernieri said members of the Ramapo Rescue Dog Association of Ramsey, N.J., searched unsuccessfully for Oakley this weekend.

"We searched the area behind the residence, the mountains nearby and the watershed property across the street, but we've had no sign of him," DiVernieri said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent police at 845-225-4600



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