One evening last October, right around dusk, Janet Brown kissed her mother on the cheek and walked out the door.

She was just going to walk down to the BP station a couple of blocks away for a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of pop.

That was the last time Alana Stephens saw her daughter. Since then, Stephens hasn’t had a call or a letter or an e-mail from Brown. As far as she knows, neither has any other relative or friend of the 25-year-old woman she still thinks of as her baby.

State police have opened a missing persons investigation but they can’t take it very far since Brown isn’t a minor. The way the law sees it, if a grownup doesn’t want to contact family, that’s fine.

The reality is that it happens from time to time. Adult children have problems or get into scrapes with the law or have a falling out with their parents. They go to ground to escape the reckoning.

That leaves a mother like Stephens with little to do but wait and wonder.

On the surface, it appears that Brown might just be reluctant to be found. She had had an argument with her father before her disappearance, Stephens said. And there were some legal issues as well.

There are warrants out for her arrest, Kentucky State Police trooper Craig Morella said. “If I found her, I’d arrest her.”

State police looked into the disappearance the best they could, Morella said. He has interviewed other family members; none reported seeing her. Checks through legal channels revealed no reports of Brown being arrested or jailed elsewhere. There are no death reports that match up.

There was one report of Brown being seen at the Vincent Apartments on Winchester Avenue after she left her mother’s house for the last time. But that’s it.

Nothing so far can persuade Stephens to stop worrying. She knows about the warrants. That wouldn’t keep Brown from calling her, she said.

“Even if she was in trouble she would call me,” she said.

The long silence is not like her, Stephens said. Calling every day was the norm. “She’s like a grown-up child. Her birthday is coming up July 26. She would call me and ask what I’m getting her.”

Stephens has printed up a stack of posters she tacks up around the neighborhood. Someone keeps taking them down, she said, and she replaces them. She ties baby-blue ribbons here and there as a reminder. It’s Brown’s favorite color.

She still doesn’t have any clues about what happened. She just wants to know her daughter is OK.

“I don’t care how grown up a person is. She’s still your baby.”

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