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Police search for Maine family reported missing after failing to return from camping trip

Police in Maine are trying to locate Jill Sidebotham, Nicholas Hansen, and their 2-year-old daughter, Lydia. They did not return as expected last week from a camping trip in the area of Phillips, Maine.Sanford, Maine, Police Department

Police in Maine are searching for a 2-year-old girl and her parents, who were reported missing earlier this month when they did not return from a camping trip, officials said.

Jill Sidebotham, 28, Nicholas Hansen, 38, and their daughter, Lydia Hansen, were last seen June 27 before they set out to go camping in the area of Phillips, Maine, police said.

They were expected to return on June 30, when Sidebotham was supposed to meet her 10-year-old son, who was planning to stay with her for the weekend, according to her father, Ron Sidebotham.

“She worships him, and it’s just not like her to not show up, especially without mentioning anything,” he said in an interview Friday.


Sidebotham and Hansen are separated, he said. His daughter and granddaughter live with him and his wife, Cottie, in Sanford.

Ron Sidebotham said he was at work on June 27 when Hansen showed up unexpectedly at their house and asked Jill to come on a camping trip and bring Lydia. His wife urged her daughter not to go, he said.

“My wife said she tried to stop her, but [Jill] said it would be fine,” Ron Sidebotham said.

On July 2, two days after they were expected home, Sidebotham’s family reported them missing to the Sanford police, according to Lieutenant Matthew Gagne.

Nicholas Hansen’s sister, Kris Martin, said she hasn’t heard from Hansen in about three years, not even last August, when their other brother died of a drug overdose, she said.

“He’s had a rough life. I mean, we all did,” Martin, 44, said in an interview. “He’s just kind of lived his life not taking care of himself.”

When Martin learned over the weekend that her brother had disappeared with his daughter and former girlfriend, she was immediately concerned.


“It doesn’t make sense that she wouldn’t be home for her child,” Martin said.

As the days drag on without the family being found, Martin’s worries are growing.

“I’m kind of losing hope that they’re going to find them,” she said. “I wish somebody would say something. Somebody’s got to know something. . . . I worry that there’s a 2-year-old out there alone.

Corey Alexander, 31, of Sanford, said he and Jill Sidebotham have been in a relationship for more than three years and are engaged.

“She’s my entire universe,” he said. “She’s such an amazing, supportive woman. She’s my foundation. I wouldn’t be who I am right now without her or her children in my life.”

Alexander said Sidebotham was devoted to her two children.

“She’s a protector to the end,” he said.

Alexander learned that Sidebotham was missing from her sister after she failed to respond to his text messages on Friday.

“We had plans for the weekend,” he said. “We were going to do stuff with the kids for the Fourth, and we were just going to have a nice, long weekend together. And then Friday came around, and I realized she wasn’t answering me. I knew something was wrong, something in my gut was just telling me that this isn’t right.”

He said he has never before known Sidebotham not to respond to a text or a voicemail.

“Her phone has been off since last Wednesday,” he said. “I’ve been devastated ever since she didn’t answer. It’s tearing me apart. … I want them both home. I want them home so we can get married. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I love her more than anything.”


Police collected cellphone data from phones belonging to Sidebotham and Hansen, but neither phone has connected with a signal since late June. Sidebotham’s cellphone was last active on June 28, and Hansen’s was most recently active on June 29, Gagne said.

The parents and the girl’s last verified location was a Walmart in Mexico, Maine, on July 2, where they were seen on security video buying food, Gagne said. Police are hoping to find them to make sure they are OK, he said.

“It’s more of a welfare check because it’s unusual that they haven’t reached out to family or friends, that we’re aware of,” Gagne added.

The Walmart is just outside of Rumford, Maine, about a 50-mile drive northwest of Augusta and about 30 miles south of where they were reportedly camping near Phillips.

Gagne said the security footage shows Hansen and Sidebotham in a checkout lane with Lydia sitting in the seat of a shopping cart. Nothing in the video appeared concerning to police.

“They were buying food items, and there did not appear to be anything nefarious or criminal,” Gagne said. However, “we cannot verify their state without seeing them.”

Sanford police first appealed for the public’s help in a July 3 Facebook post, which included a picture of Sidebotham sitting with Lydia on her lap and a picture of Hansen. Police said they were last seen in a silver 2005 Volkswagen Jetta with a Maine license plate numbered 1563VJ and a black rear bumper.


The Facebook post quickly drew wider attention to the search, and tips have been flowing into the Sanford Police Department since.

Gagne urged anyone who sees the family to call the local police department, which will lead to a faster response. Sanford is located in southern Maine and is about a 2½-drive south of Phillips.

Globe correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.