Amber Lowery has been missing for just over a week.
Interviews with Lowery’s husband, Mike, and her brother, Ryan Christensen, as well as posts of a Facebook page called Find Amber Lowery, indicate there are conflicting views of the former Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter pilot and her disappearance.
Officials with the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office, the agency investigating Amber Lowery’s disappearance, did not return calls to the Bulletin on Monday or Tuesday.
Lowery, 34, had worked at Air Evac Lifeteam’s Brownwood base before going on maternity leave late last year. Lowery gave birth in February and did not go back to work.
The Lowerys’ home is six miles east of Rising Star, just inside the Comanche County line.
Lowery disappeared the night of July 23.
Ryan Christensen and his wife, Megan, were already at the Bluff Dale home of Ryan’s and Amber’s late parents when Amber disappeared. The Christensens, who live in Phoenix, Ariz., arrived in Bluff Dale to settle the estate of Ryan’s and Amber’s parents. Megan Christensen has set up the Find Amber Lowery Facebook page, which contains posts that are critical of Mike Lowery.
Christensen said he’s still trying to deal with matters related to his parents’ estate — but the search for his sister has become his priority.
Amber Lowery had an appointment to see a divorce attorney in Comanche on Friday, Christensen said. She’d already been missing for three days and she didn’t show for the appointment.
Mike Lowery said he doesn’t know if that’s correct but said his wife had run off on previous occasions and had come home talking about divorce.
'Do you know where Amber is?'
Ryan Christensen didn’t expect to see his brother-in-law’s pickup parked outside a store Monday afternoon in Rising Star.
Relations between members of the Christensen family and Mike Lowery have been strained, and Christensen hadn’t planned on going to the home near Rising Star where his missing sister lives with Mike and the couple’s two children — two boys, ages five and five months.
Christensen had, however, offered to take a television news reporter to the edge of Lowerys’ property, because it’s hard to find. He’d been in Rising Star, handing out leaflets about his sister’s disappearance and asking residents if they knew anything. He’d also given an interview to the television reporter.
When Christen saw Lowery’s truck parked outside the store, he stopped.
“That’s Mike’s truck,” Christensen told the television reporter.
Lowery was inside the store; his and Amber’s two sons were in the truck.
Christensen greeted Dalton, his 5-year-old nephew.
“Hey Uncle Ryan!” Dalton called back. Then Dalton said, “I don’t think I’m supposed to talk to you. Daddy says I can’t.
Lowery walked out of the store. “Hey Mike, how you doin’?” Christensen called out, explaining that the television reporter wanted to interview Lowery.
Christensen started to walk away, but stopped. “Hey Mike, can we have a conversation?”
Lowery agreed, and asked Christensen, “where’s Amber?”
“I would love to ask you the same question,” Christensen told his brother-in-law.
Speaking in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Christensen described the unexpected encounter with Mike Lowery.
“I simply asked him if he’s done anything to Amber … ‘do you know where Amber is?’” Christensen said. “He said ‘no.’”
“He began slamming Amber, saying she’s not mentally stable,” Christensen said.
On Monday, Christensen gave an interview to the Bulletin in which he offered little comment about Mike Lowery or about Lowery’s earlier statements to the Bulletin. Lowery had asserted that Amber’s behavior was affected by postpartum depression and depression over the deaths of her parents.
In Tuesday’s interview, Christensen offered additional details.
On July 23, a Tuesday, Christensen said, Mike Lowery left home for the drive to Port Arthur, where he was to do a 14-day stint as an offshore helicopter pilot. Mike and Amber spoke by phone that day, Christensen said, and the conversations were not pleasant. Amber ended up unplugging the land line so she wouldn’t have to hear it ring.
Christensen said he spoke with his sister by phone at 9:30 p.m., and she expressed concern for her safety. He pressed her for more details and asked if she needed to leave the home. Amber said she didn’t because Mike was on his way to Port Arthur, Christensen recounted.
Amber had been scheduled to arrive at her parents’ home the next morning to go through some of her late mother’s belongings. Christensen expected her around 9. When she didn’t arrive by 9, then 10, Christensen wasn’t, at first, concerned. He figured she’d been delayed because of the children.
By noon, Christensen was worried and he began trying to contact her by cell phone, text and email. He received no response, and other family members tried to contact her. Wednesday afternoon, Christensen placed a 9-1-1 call to Erath County dispatch, which patched him through to the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office.
Christensen said he reported the circumstances of his sister’s disappearance, and he received a call later from a sheriff’s investigator who’d gone to the Lowerys’ home for a “wellness check.” Mike Lowery was there when the investigator arrived. Lowery told the investigator he’d gotten concerned about Amber’s welfare while driving to Port Arthur and had turned around and gone back home, arriving at 9:45 p.m., Christensen said.
Lowery told the investigator the two had argued and that Amber had left, upset, Christensen said.
Christensen said sheriff’s officials haven’t told him much about their investigation into his sister’s disappearance, and he doesn’t know what kind of evidence was found in Amber’s abandoned SUV, which was recovered Saturday in Rising Star. Investigators have assured him, Christensen said, that they are working hard on the case and following leads.
“As far as I know, (sheriff’s investigators) have been on the property at least a couple of times,” Christensen said, although there hasn’t been “a mass search.”
When asked if he believes his sister is deceased, Christensen replied, “My brain has thought that through. I’m thinking that may be the case. I hope it isn’t.”
'They're trying to push this on me'
"I don't have any new information to give you," Mike Lowery said Tuesday afternoon when reached by phone at his home near Rising Star.
"We've got (information about Amber) out as many places as possible. … We're looking for a speedy conclusion to this."
Lowery said he has "a good feeling" that Christensen family members including her siblings know where Amber is.
Lowery said he doesn't have Facebook so he hasn't seen the Find Amber Lowery Facebook page. But he said he's been told that some of the posts are not favorable to him and claim he has abused Amber.
"They're trying to push this on me, for sure," Lowery said of the Christensen family. Lowery said he thinks Christensen family members are "squabbling" over the inheritance from Ryan's and Amber's parents.
Facebook posts claiming that Lowery abused Amber are not true, Lowery said. "Her family always tries to blame someone else," Lowery said. "(Amber) was the abusive side of the relationship. Her family has a history of mental illness."
Lowery repeated his earlier statements that his wife suffered from postpartum depression and was also depressed over the deaths of her parents, Chris and Linda Christensen, who were killed in April 2013 in a one-vehicle accident in Comanche County.
Amber could be "loving and nice one second" and then begin "hitting and kicking anything in sight," Lowery said.
It's also untrue, as Facebook posts claim, that he is not cooperating with the Christensen family in the search for Amber, Lowery said, adding that he had contacted the media about his wife's disappearance.
In an interview Monday, Lowery said Amber had driven away from the home around 9:45 the night of July 23 and did not say where she was going. "We had heard that she had some kind of friends coming into town. We believe she went to meet someone," Lowery said then.
In Tuesday's interview, Lowery was asked if he had told a sheriff's investigator that Amber had driven away upset after he and his wife had an argument.
Lowery said he'd shown the investigator angry texts he'd received from Amber before her disappearance.
When asked if his wife was preparing to speak to a divorce attorney, Lowery replied, "I don't know much about that. I can't speculate there."