The search for a troubled Sacramento man that was all but abandoned four months ago has gained renewed momentum in recent weeks after more than a dozen reported sightings in the Santa Rosa area.
Several locals believe they have spotted Jason Kyles, a lanky 6-foot-6 man, walking along city streets in the past month or so, his wife said Monday.
But an intensive volunteer search over the weekend, when Rebecca Kyles and others crawled under bridges and canvassed homeless encampments around Howarth Park and Santa Rosa Avenue, failed to yield the happy ending Kyles' family awaits.
"I'm not going to stop until I find him," said Rebecca Kyles, his wife of four years. "We just need to save him."
She's finding help from a growing crowd of Santa Rosans who have joined search parties, passed out fliers and spread the word about Kyles' plight.
"Honestly, I can't explain what it is," said Hank Howerton, 37, who took time from his job at a dental lab Monday to canvass Santa Rosa Avenue. "I think, it's just this regular dude who had this episode. It could damn near happen to anyone. And if it was a loved one of mine, I would sure as hell want people to jump in and help."
"I just really kind of wanted to help her out," said another stalwart, Tyler Briggs, 29, an unemployed emergency medic who has regularly hiked Annadel State Park, the last place Kyles was seen until recent developments redirected the search.
Kyles, a 34-year-old landscape contractor, disappeared Feb. 1 from his Sacramento home after weeks of increasingly unusual behavior that suggested a history of seasonal depression had evolved into something far more serious, his wife said.
He'd been sleepless and hyper, and became fixated on religious topics, she said. Then one day in late January, he bought a $100 top hat that he wore for a walk along the river. He told his wife that, atop his already impressive height, the hat scared people and made them run away. When he talked, it was as if his mouth couldn't keep pace with his mind.
Two days later, Rebecca Kyles drove off to work and her husband packed his pickup with an assortment of odds and ends, including a bird bath, a piece of carpeting, some pictures and her son's guitar, and drove away. He left a note saying he had gone to visit a cousin in New York. He was going to play music and make millions. She wasn't to worry.
The next morning, Sonoma County authorities called after finding Kyles' truck parked near Lawndale Road and Annadel. A nearby resident reported finding Kyles in her barn, where he wept, saying that her "horses are so sad ... I can't leave," Rebecca Kyles said.
After that, he seemed to go into the park, where a bicyclist reported seeing him chanting and naked. A search crew found his clothing scattered on a steep hill, with the tags torn out of each garment. There were Christmas ornaments in his coat pockets and refrigerator magnets in his pants, his wife said. He left his driver's license, too.
A six-day search of the park, which involved more than 250 people at one point, was suspended when no other leads developed.
Rebecca Kyles has coped with the mystery by continuing to search for her husband, joined by volunteer supporters in smaller numbers. She says she was sure her husband had died, focusing a search for his remains around Lawndale Road.